Carlos Alcaraz becomes 7th man to achieve feat that eluded Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer at Wimbledon

Ewan West
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates during his match at Wimbledon in 2024
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates during his match at Wimbledon in 2024

Carlos Alcaraz started his title defence at the 2024 Wimbledon Championships with a straight-set victory against Estonian qualifier Mark Lajal. 

The world No 3 defeated Lajal, who was making his Grand Slam main draw debut, 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-2 in the opening round on Wimbledon‘s Centre Court.

Alcaraz came from a break down in both the first and second sets against the world No 269, who brought an impressive level in what was by far the biggest match of his career to date.

The 21-year-old is looking to successfully defend a Grand Slam title for the first time in his career and is seeking a fourth Major crown.

Victory at the All England Club this year would see Alcaraz complete a ‘Channel Slam’ after he won the French Open last month.

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With his first round win over Lajal, Alcaraz became the seventh man in the Open Era to win their first 14 Grand Slam opening round matches.

The Spaniard joins Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Wayne Ferreira, Andrei Medvedev and Rafael Nadal on the exclusive list.

Alcaraz has also become the third-youngest man to record eight consecutive match victories at Wimbledon following Borg and Boris Becker.

In his on-court interview, Alcaraz was asked about the emotions he experienced in his first match at Wimbledon since his 2023 triumph.

“A lot… stepping on this Centre Court at Wimbledon, it is the most beautiful court I’ve played on. I still get nerves when I play here,” said the Spaniard.

“I practised 45 minutes on Thursday. It’s the first time I was nervous on a practice, just because I’m playing here. I’m glad and I’m a privileged guy to play on this court.”

Alcaraz also addressed whether the memories of last year came back to him when he entered the court.

“A little bit. But I try not to think about it. It’s a new year. Totally different tournament,” he added.

“I have to be focused on my game just to play at the same level as last year if I want to repeat what I did last year.

“Obviously when I’m practicing and walking around, when I walk on court, I got goosebumps. I remember last year. It was a great feeling.”

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