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Carlos Alcaraz v Novak Djokovic
Number One seed meets Number Two seed in the final of the Gentlemans’ Singles at Wimbledon for the first time since the Federer v Djokovic epic of 2019 and it couldn’t be more excitingly poised.
In all fairness, the Mens’ Tournament has been somewhat underwhelming to this point. It has almost felt inevitable that this would be the conclusion, and neither player has been in real jeopardy at any point during the event.
This is the final the organisers would’ve wanted though. The great 36-year-old Serbian Novak Djokovic has various pieces of history on the line. If he wins that would be five consecutive Wimbledon titles in the bag, equalling Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer’s record. It would be eight Wimbledon titles in total, equalling Roger Federer’s record, and it would be his 24th Grand Slam title, extending that record out on his own.
Attempting to prevent this, Carlos Alcaraz represents the best of the rest of the Men’s Tennis fraternity. There couldn’t be a better candidate though as the 20-year-old US Open Champion is the most electrifying man in professional tennis today. He has all the shots, a dynamite forehand, great touch, and a gravity that draws everyone into him.
The big difference between the players is experience, and this may be the key factor in the match.
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The once and future King Carlos?
Carlos Alcaraz has thrilled the crowds at Queens and Wimbledon for eleven consecutive victories in this London summer.
It was actually his first match in this sequence that was probably the most important. He was in big trouble against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in the opening round at Queens but found a way through. This gave him the platform to develop his game on grass and find his movement. This has been the key to his success now at Wimbledon.
It is only his third Wimbledon tournament, but the progress has been quick for Alcaraz. It is a comparison often used, and could be construed as lazy given their nationality, but the quick progress is a reminder of how Rafael Nadal improved on the grass to begin to reach Wimbledon finals, and eventually win the tournament, in the 2000s.
This is the slight concern for this match though. The younger Rafael Nadal famously had to face Roger Federer twice in finals (2006 & 2007) and get incrementally closer before taking the title himself in the epic 2008 battle. Will the same fate befall Carlos Alcaraz this year?
Novak the Great aiming to defeat them all once more
There can be little doubt now that Novak Djokovic will end his career as the greatest tennis player of all time.
The numbers will support this, but also the way that he is still dominating the game at this stage and age is outstanding. Some players are defeated before they step onto the court but the others are still defeated on it.
Some of the Wimbledon numbers are ridiculous. Undefeated on Centre Court for a whole decade, since Andy Murray beat him in the 2013 final. His last completed defeat in Wimbledon at all was against Sam Querrey in 2016. He has won 34 in a row at Wimbledon and 104 Grand Slam matches in a row when he has won the first set.
He has barely broken a sweat this year, despite the fact that the likes of Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner playing well in their matches. The Serbian master always just seems to pick up his level at the most important times, be it a tiebreak or on break points.
Previous meetings between the pair have been so highly anticipated, much as this final is. Alcaraz beat Djokovic in their first meeting in Madrid 2022 but suffered from cramp in their Roland-Garros semi-final a few weeks ago. This adds a little bit of unreliability to the head-to-head data.
|Aces Per Game||0.2||0.44|
|DFs Per Game||0.17||0.14|
|Combined Hold + Break||88.2%||111.8%|
That French Open semi-final skews the data in Djokovic’s favour as Alcaraz refused to retire and was soundly beaten in the last two sets when struggling.
The first two sets of that semi-final did demonstrate what can be done though. Lots of back-and-forth, magnificent rallies and Alcaraz having the ability to push Djokovic in the big points.
The Alcaraz victory in Madrid, as a teenager, showed that he is unafraid to take Djokovic on at key times and will not be inhibited by fear or respect. Hopefully, as a Grand Slam champion already, he will retain that spirit in the biggest of arenas, Centre Court at Wimbledon in the Mens’ Singles Final.
The runs to the final have been fairly even for both players. Alcaraz has had to see off Matteo Berrettini, Holger Rune, and Daniil Medvedev, whereas Djokovic got through Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev, and Jannik Sinner.
|Aces Per Game||0.39||0.64|
|DFs Per Game||0.23||0.08|
|Combined Hold + Break||121.3%||114.9%|
In terms of the stats at Wimbledon over the last fortnight, it is a bit of a split between the two.
Alcaraz has actually been more dominant in terms of games and points won against his opponents. Djokovic has been practically unbreakable throughout the six rounds so far, but Alcaraz has kept himself in the 90%+ holds range, whilst still pushing 30%+ breaks.
It would seem as though Djokovic has been quite happy to win with one break or hold out for a tiebreak in his matches. He seems to have supreme confidence in his ability to hold serve and win the big points when it matters, so much so that he feels that he doesn’t need a safety cushion.
Previous Wimbledon Finals:
The Mens’ Singles Final hasn’t been won in straight sets since 2018, indeed that victory over an exhausted Kevin Anderson is Djokovic’s only straight-sets final victory at Wimbledon.
Five out of the last eight finals have gone over the current Paddy Power total games line of 40.5, but the last two finals have only just scraped over that line. The other common denominator of the 2021 and 2022 finals is that Novak Djokovic lost the first set in both.
Djokovic vs Federer finals are also responsible for the last two finals that went five sets. Carlos Alcaraz is definitely the most difficult opponent that he has faced in a final since Federer, could this herald a potential return to a five-set epic?
The aces count in finals simply shows how often the matches have featured an all-time great vs a big server. Even in non-Djokovic finals, Federer had to face Marin Cilic and Andy Murray was against Milos Raonic. Djokovic hasn’t hit the most aces in a Wimbledon final since his first triumph in 2011 against Nadal. However, he should be favourite to do so vs Carlos Alcaraz, albeit it is unlikely to be a high ace final.
Wimbledon 2023 Men’s Singles Final Tips
Set Betting – Djokovic (3-2)
Buckle up ladies and gents, we could be in for a wild ride.
A lot of the information that has come up in the research points towards a longer final. Even when playing opponents far inferior to him, Djokovic has gone fairly deep having lost the first set.
Even when Djokovic took the first set in their last match, Alcaraz was undeterred and came back strongly.
This is the first time that Djokovic has faced someone who is able to take him on from a groundstroke and movement perspective in the final since Federer.
However, the steel, experience, and drive that Djokovic has will come into play in the final set to deliver him the all-important win.
Novak Djokovic to win his first 3 service games of the match to 30
Djokovic will know how important it is to retain that sense of invincibility on serve at the beginning of the match, and will be determined to pile all the pressure on his much younger opponent. The first two sets of their French Open semi-final means Novak is well aware of the threat an on-form Alcaraz poses, especially when he finds early confidence in his shot.
Alcaraz will likely threaten, but it is certainly worth a speculative punt to back one of the greatest to ever play the sport, Djokovic, to hold on to 30 on each occasion as he looks to extend his dominant grip over this tournament.