Sunday People




CARLOS ALCARAZ knows it will be just another day in the office for the mentality monster facing him on Centre Court.

But for the young Spaniard, the Wimbledon final represents the biggest day of his life.

World No.1 Alcaraz takes on seven-time winner

Novak Djokovic in a showdown that doesn’t just realise his own dreams of a final foe – but those of organisers and fans alike at the All England Club.

Djokovic comes into today’s finale as the lowerranke­d and lower-seeded player.

But the super Serb – who will equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Major singles wins if he triumphs – is still favourite to lift the trophy.

Alcaraz, 20, admitted: “For Novak, it is one more day, one more moment. For me, it’s going to be the best moment of my life.

“Playing a final here in Wimbledon is something I dreamt about when I started playing tennis. It’s even better to be playing Novak.

‘It’s going to be a really emotional moment for me, but I’ll try to stay calm in that moment.

“Being the guy Novak is right now, with everything that he has been through, shows he has no weakness.

“He’s a really complete guy, and a really complete player. He’s amazing.

“He does nothing wrong on the court.

“Physically, he’s a beast. Mentally, he’s a beast.

“Everything is unbelievab­le for him. It’s a mix of everything that I admire.”

Nerves got the better of Alcaraz five weeks ago as he lost to Djokovic in four sets in the semi-finals of the French Open, and he suffered from cramp as a result of his emotions.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC will approach his 35th Grand Slam final in exactly the same way he approached his first, back in 2007.

Djokovic can equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam event singles titles if he wins on Centre Court today, having raised the Slams benchmark in the men’s game last month when he won the French Open.

That title, coupled with his Aussie Open triumph, means

But he said: “This match is an opportunit­y for revenge against myself, to confront what happened in Paris. To try to learn from that.

“It’s a personal battle to improve. To beat Novak I have to be at my best in every way – physically, mentally and with my tennis.

“I will try to get into the court with not as much nerves as I the Calendar Slam remains on. Djokovic will also match Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledons if he sees off the threat from Carlos Alcaraz.

Djokovic said: “Maybe some people think it would be a huge relief for me winning Rolandgarr­os, being the only men’s tennis player with 23 Slams.

“It’s not. I mean, pressure is there. It’s still very high.

“I still feel nerves coming into every single match. So I’m going to be coming into this

enjoy the first set at all.

“I’ll talk with my whole team about how to prepare mentally.

“We’ll have some fun, tell jokes, stay relaxed. I’ve learned from what final like it’s my first. I don’t want to approach the final in any more relaxed a way than I have previous ones – meaning the intention needs to be clear.

“My goal and approach will be as serious and profession­al as they have been always, there’s not much difference for me there.”

Djokovic, 36, has won six of the last eight Grand Slam events and added: “It’s no secret Grand Slams are the highest priority for me. Every probably had in playing him at the French Open. “I will try to pull out all nerves, try to enjoy that moment because probably in the semi-final I didn’t happened before so we’ll try some different things to deal with this.

“I did do some mental exercises before the Holger Rune match, because I was feeling quite nervous.

“Some relaxing music, visualisin­g what is going to happen.”

Alcaraz hammered Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in his semi-final on Friday.

And asked how he’d describe that win, he added: “Brilliant. I played at a brutal level with a lot of confidence.”

He knows that he will need to rediscover that level, and then go beyond it, to beat Djokovic today. time I start the season, I want to peak at the four tournament­s.

“I try to organise my schedule, training schedule, and my preparatio­n weeks, and all the tournament­s, according to those four priorities.

“All the tournament­s I play are basically leading me up to a Grand Slam.

“I’m glad that this year, actually the last several years, my Grand Slam seasons have been amazing. The results are fantastic.”

HANNAH KLUGMAN and Isabelle Lacy will take on Czech duo Alena Kovackova and Laura Samsonova in today’s girls’ doubles final after cruising to victory yesterday.

The British pair beat Tatum Evans and Alanis Hamilton of the United States 6-2 6-4 to secure their spot in the showdown.

Meanwhile, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid won their fifth Wimbledon men’s wheelchair doubles title as a pair — and their 18th Grand Slam doubles title together — by beating Japan’s Takuya Miki and Tokito Oda.

Top seeds Hewett and Reid had to come from behind on Court One to win 3-6 6-0 6-3.

Hewett and Oda will meet again in today’s singles final after the Brit beat Spain’s Martin de la Puente 6-3 6-2.

 ?? ?? QUITE A STRETCH World No.1 Alcaraz steps up for his first SW19 final
QUITE A STRETCH World No.1 Alcaraz steps up for his first SW19 final
 ?? ?? SLAM FOCUS Djokovic

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