Carlos Alcaraz has the ‘Spanish bull mentality’ and best elements of the Big Three, says Novak Djokovic

Carlos Alcaraz celebrations

There was naturally high praise for Carlos Alcaraz from Novak Djokovic following their classic Wimbledon final with the latter saying “I haven’t played a player like him ever”.

Having wiped all before him over the past few years at Wimbledon, Djokovic was the favourite ahead of Sunday’s final as he was bidding to win a fifth consecutive title that would have seen him draw level with Roger Federer’s record eight trophies at SW19.

And many thought “here we go again” when Djokovic – who defeated Alcaraz in four sets in the French Open semi-final just a month ago – lost just one game during the opening set, but the rising star bounced back to secure a 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

Many have labelled Alcaraz a hybrid of the Big Three of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his game certainly showed a bit of each during Sunday’s final.

Djokovic, went further as he believes Alcaraz has the “best of all three worlds”.

“I think people have been talking in the past 12 months or so about his game consisting of certain elements from Roger, Rafa, and myself. I would agree with that. I think he’s got basically best of all three worlds,” he said.

“He’s got this mental resilience and really maturity for someone who is 20 years old. It’s quite impressive. He’s got this Spanish bull mentality of competitiveness and fighting spirit and incredible defense that we’ve seen with Rafa over the years.

“And I think he’s got some nice sliding backhands that he’s got some similarities with my backhands. Yeah, two-handed backhands, defense, being able to adapt. I think that has been my personal strength for many years. He has it, too.

“I haven’t played a player like him ever, to be honest. Roger and Rafa have their own obviously strengths and weaknesses. Carlos is a very complete player. Amazing adapting capabilities that I think are a key for longevity and for successful career on all surfaces.”

Playing in only his fourth tournament on grass, Alcaraz took his record to 16-2. He now has two titles on the surface as he also won the Queen’s Club Championship before Wimbledon.

While everyone expected the 20-year-old to be a dominant player on clay, his development on grass has come as a surprise.

“He grew up on clay. His game is obviously suited and developed for clay, probably slower hard courts,” Djokovic said.

“But, yeah, grass, I must say he surprised me. He surprised everyone how quickly he adapted to grass this year. He hasn’t had too many wins on grass in the last two years that he played. Obviously him coming from clay, having the kind of style that he has.

“I think Queen’s helped him a lot. He was close to lose that first match, opening match, in Queen’s. Then he started to gain momentum, more and more wins against really good players.

“Wimbledon courts are slower than Aorangi courts or maybe Queen’s courts. It’s more suitable for I guess the baseliners like he is.

“I must say the slices, the kind of chipping returns, the net play, it’s very impressive. I didn’t expect him to play so well this year on grass, but he’s proven that he’s the best player in the world, no doubt.

“He’s playing some fantastic tennis on different surfaces and he deserves to be where he is.”

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