By Randy Walker
Entering the 2023 Wimbledon men’s final, many observers were worried about whether Carlos Alcaraz would be stricken with the same nerves that caused him to cramp and capitulate against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Roland Garros. A final on Centre Court at Wimbledon is an intimidating place and scenario, more so than a semifinal in Paris, especially against a seven-time at the event like Djokovic.
However, under the guidance of coach and former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz learned from his disappointing showing in Paris and prepared better mentally, including, reportedly, avoiding his mobile phone altogether.
“Well, I grew up a lot since that moment in French Open,” Alcaraz said to ESPN’s Chris McKendry moments after leaving Centre Court after his five-set win over Djokovic for his first Wimbledon title and second major title. “I knew that I had to be there. It’s the final of Wimbledon. It’s no time to give up, to get it down. I knew I was going to have my chances, but obviously in the tie-break it’s not easy knowing that Novak won the last 15 tie-breaks. It’s not easy to come and play a tie-break against him, but really, really happy with the level that I play in that moment, ending with such a great thought, winning that tie-break. Obviously, great confidence in the third set as well. And after all, increase my level, increase my confidence, physically increased as well. So it was an amazing end.”
Alcaraz then expanded on the difference between his Roland Garros and Wimbledon performances with the on-site media during his post-match press conference.
“I am totally different player than French Open. I grew up a lot since that moment,” he said. “I learned a lot from that moment. As I said before the final, I took lesson from that match. I did something different before the match. I prepared a little bit different mentally before the match. I could deal with the pressure, the nerves, better than I did in French Open. Obviously on grass is different than on clay. But I’m really happy to be able to stay there. Didn’t get down, didn’t give up. I fought until the last ball. Every ball, I think we made great rallies, great points. It was long, long match, long sets. I think was the mental part that allow me to stay there during the five sets.”
Said John McEnroe on ESPN of the final and the Alcaraz retribution, “This was one of the all time great matches that I’ve had the pleasure of being able to sit here to watch and call and also especially, I’ve got to add, after what happened at the French Open, where he just froze up and cramped up, to see him sort of come right back and rebound the way he did was absolutely awesome.”