The potentially generation-defining rivalry between Djokovic and Alcaraz gave rise to another dramatic match, with Djokovic defeating his 16-year-old opponent 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) to earn a 39th Masters 1000 championship with their triumphant Wimbledon final still clearly in the background. It was the longest best-of-three Masters final in ATP history, lasting 3 hours and 49 minutes. However, focusing on playtime alone does not do credit to the thrilling match, in which the momentum frequently changed, championship points were preserved, winners painted the lines, and intense rallies ensued.
This was, above all, a declaration from Djokovic. After narrowly falling short at Wimbledon last month, the Serb once again found a way to overcome Alcaraz’s full range of raw talent and come back from the brink of defeat. He saved match points and then wasted four of his own to win his 95th career title, moving him into third place on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer.
It was Djokovic who appeared to physically struggle in Cincinnati’s dry heat, in contrast to their first matchup of a trio of high-caliber matches this summer, when Alcaraz lost due to cramps during the French Open semifinal. The first set was won by Alcaraz after Djokovic jumped out to an early lead with his usual strong serve and return game and built a 4-2 advantage. However, as the temperature rose to almost 35 degrees, Djokovic started to wilt and start to commit errors. Alcaraz took advantage of this by slightly improving his performance and winning five of the following six games to win the first set.
From that point on, Alcaraz was able to seize control by winning the majority of baseline rallies with his powerful forehand and low backhand slices. Despite the fact that Djokovic was down a set and a break, Alcaraz would later witness the full impact of the Serb’s enduring legacy of being able to handle practically any scoreline.
After a fierce rivalry match prior to the US Open, Carlos Alcaraz sobs as Novak Djokovic shreds his shirt
What can we learn from this Cincinnati championship game? Carlos Alcaraz’s tears, Novak Djokovic’s gladiator-like shout after ripping his shirt off in jubilation, Djokovic’s amazing capacity to up his game in pressure situations, or Alcaraz’s spectacular backhand down the line screamers that will go down in YouTube history? In a non-grandslam match for eons that has been the subject of innumerable deep dives, Djokovic triumphed in a way that made a message that he won’t simply disappear upon seeing the next great champion.
By winning his lone and only break point of the set, Djokovic did what he does best: served superbly to hold off Alcaraz and put the second set back on serve. He advanced the match to a tiebreaker, where he once more performed as usual, stepping up his performance just slightly – not more or less – to overcome Alcaraz’s peaking baseline game by wearing him out and securing a match point with some brilliant returns and net game.
Djokovic took charge after that. As dusk fell, the temperature dropped and the contest was on Djokovic’s racquet as he broke through Alcaraz’s defense, testing the mental toughness of his younger competitor after he wasted a match point, creating a 5-3 lead, before another twist.
The Wimbledon final was notable for the lack of a tactical battle, which was an impressive feature. Alcaraz won by playing at his absolute best and showcasing the terrifying raw talent and instincts he possesses, as opposed to the minute problem-solving that more seasoned players like Djokovic would have done to make comeback wins on the big stage.
Alcaraz saved four match points with four spectacular, diverse winners, one of which was a curled forehand passing shot that beat Djokovic at the net and became an instant classic, putting Djokovic once more in the uncomfortable presence of that skill. Despite Alcaraz’s valiant efforts to force a tiebreak, momentum began to wane once more. However, Djokovic’s superior experience won out as he subdued the crowd, seized an early lead under duress, and completed the victory.
Emotions were raging, Djokovic collapsed to his back and tore off his shirt, Alcaraz sobbed and appeared to be mentally exhausted. With his customary words of praise, the 23-time Grand Slam winner attempted to lessen the pain.
“Crazy. I’m not sure what else to say, to be completely honest, hard to describe. Regardless of the competition, player, level, or category, this was undoubtedly one of the most difficult matches I have ever played. He exclaimed, following the game, “It’s unbelievable.
It only gets better between us. Constant improvement is occurring exceptional athlete. Respect for him in plenty. It is impressive for such a young athlete to have such composure in crucial situations, Alcaraz was praised for.