Novak Djokovic pays Carlos Alcaraz the ultimate tribute after epic Cincinnati final

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic beat Carlos Alcaraz in the Cincinnati final
Novak Djokovic beat Carlos Alcaraz in the Cincinnati final

Novak Djokovic paid Carlos Alcaraz the ultimate tribute after his remarkable win against the Spanish superstar in the Cincinnati Masters final.

After both men had match points in one of the greatest finals in the recent history of the men’s game, the 23-time Grand Slam champion admitted this match may have been the toughest of his long and illustrious career.

Djokovic’s 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-4) win will be etched into the history books as his 39th ATP Masters 1000 title, but this one clearly meant more than most after he was pushed so hard by the world No 1.

An exhausted Djokovic struggled to find the words to describe his win but he offered up these sentiments to Amazon Prime.

“Crazy, honestly, I don’t know what else I can say,” he said.

“Definitely one of the toughest matches I ever played in my life regardless of what category of tournament against any player.

“It was unbelievable from beginning to end. We have both been through so many ups and downs, highs and lows.

“Heat stroke, coming back, overall it was one of the toughest and most exciting matches I was ever a part of.

“These are the kind of matches I continue to work for day in and day out. I never doubted that I could deliver the A game when it mattered most and I am thrilled.

“There is not much to say. Everyone who sees it can see this rivalry just gets better. Amazing player, tons of respect for him. For such a young player to show so much poise in crucial moments is impressive.”

Djokovic’s on-court interview featured similar sentiments, but he had some fun with his rival as he questioned how he continued to fight for so long.

“So much to say, but so little energy, to be honest,” he added.

“We have run out of words of praise for what you are doing on the court. What you have done in the last two or three years is unbelievable.

“Boy, you never give up! I love that about you, but sometimes it would be nice if you played a few bad points!

“This was one of the greatest matches I ever played. It felt like a Grand Slam final and I’m hoping we can play again in New York in a few weeks. That would be nice for the crowd, maybe not for me!”

An emotional Alcaraz appreciated Djokovic’s sentiments as he wiped away some tears to give his speech.

“This is going to be tough for me to talk, but I try to do my best,” said the 20-year-old Spaniard.

“First of all, congrats to Novak once again. It’s amazing to share a court with you and learn from you. I learn a lot from a champion like you so congratulations to you and your team.”

Alcaraz then got emotional as he thanked his coaching team, with his brother also in his box in Cincinnati to witness the remarkable final.

“I want to say thank you to my team, not only in the professional part but I also learn from you every day.

“My brother is here as well and it’s great to have you here supporting me every day and making me a better person every day, so thank you very much for being with me.”

It was a classy speech from a clearly devastated Alcaraz and tennis is lucky to have a new champion to cherish.

He will eventually replace Djokovic as the king of tennis, but for now, we can all relish the incredible battles they are serving up to a captivated sporting world.

After losing to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final last month, this was the revenge of sorts for Djokovic, but he knows he now has a rival who will continue to push him all the way for as long as he continues to play this glorious game. 

READ MORE: Was Novak Djokovic’s win against Carlos Alcaraz the greatest final of them all?