An eventful Wimbledon came to a close on Sunday with Carlos Alcaraz ending Novak Djokovic’s 45-match Centre Court winning streak with a stunning five-set victory.
Here is what we learned from this year’s championships.
Alcaraz reignites men’s tour
He had not lost a match on Centre Court in 10 years, was on a 34-match unbeaten run at Wimbledon, and was looking to win a record-equaling eighth title at the All England Club, and fifth in a row … Novak Djokovic was regarded as the undisputed favorite for the title at SW19.
The Serb was barely tested en route to the final, dropping just two sets — one to Hubert Hurkacz and one to Andrey Rublev — and was primed to secure a record 24th Grand Slam crown.
But then came Carlos Alcaraz, a 20-year-old playing just his fourth tour-level tournament on grass and contesting a second major final. Djokovic in comparison was into a 35th Grand Slam final, which is an all-time record in singles for both men and women.
A showdown between the world No. 1 and No. 2, the four-hour 43-minute final was everything a sports fan could ask for. It had momentum swings, unthinkable shots, a broken racquet (and dented net post), code violations, tweener lobs, Brad Pitt and Princess Charlotte, a maiden champion and a tearful legend.
Now a two-time Grand Slam winner, Alcaraz picked up a second victory in three meetings with Djokovic, who is already keen to set up a rematch with the Spaniard at next month’s US Open.
For a long stretch, we had tournaments that featured either Alcaraz or Djokovic but not the two of them together. When Alcaraz won the US Open last summer, Djokovic was back home, unable to participate due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
When Djokovic won a 10th Australian Open crown in January, Alcaraz was sidelined with a leg muscle injury.
In the two Grand Slams since, the fabulous duo have faced off in the Roland Garros semifinals and now the Wimbledon final, teasing us with the possibility of a great rivalry developing between them, despite the 16-year age difference.
At a time when only a small few of the younger players on the men’s tour have risen to the occasion at the majors, Alcaraz has set himself apart and could provide a consistent challenge for the timeless and yet somehow still hungry Djokovic.
The two players should definitely continue to take this show on the road. It is exactly what men’s tennis needs as it faces up to life after the “Big Three” era.
Under the radar, Vondrousova emerges as champion
It is fair to say Marketa Vondrousova’s run to a maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon took many by surprise, not because she did not have the talent or pedigree (she was already a major finalist and an Olympic silver medalist) but due to the fact she had limited experience on grass, was unseeded, and was not on anyone’s radar as a potential contender on the lawns of the All England Club.
This time last year, the Czech lefty was in a cast, coming off wrist surgery and playing tourist in London while sidelined with an injury for six months.
In the final, she took on an opponent who adored the grass. Since the start of 2021, Ons Jabeur has won the highest number of grass-court matches on the women’s tour, and the Tunisian was contesting a second successive Wimbledon final.
Jabeur was the outright favorite, despite her two losses to Vondrousova earlier in the season, but she ended up falling to the Czech in straight sets.
From the outside it looked like the Tunisian was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, unable to reproduce the magic that saw her dismiss four Grand Slam champions in a row in the previous rounds, including world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 3 Elena Rybakina.
Vondrousova stayed composed and played freely, while Jabeur seemed tight and was understandably devastated after losing a third major final in her last five slams.
The 24-year-old Vondrousova has now cracked the world’s top 10 for the first time, while Jabeur remains at No. 6 and has US Open runner-up points to defend in September.
Just as she rebounded remarkably well from her Wimbledon final defeat to Rybakina 12 months ago by enjoying a great run at the US Open, we can expect Jabeur to dust herself off and contend again at the closing Grand Slam of the season in New York.
If you reach three major finals in the span of a year, you should never be discounted, or discouraged. Her time will come!
Swiatek one step closer to figuring out the grass
Aryna Sabalenka was one set away from dethroning Iga Swiatek at the top of the rankings but fell to Jabeur in the Wimbledon semifinals to remain at No. 2.
Swiatek has been open about her feelings about grass, a surface on which she won Wimbledon as a junior but one that poses many challenges for her, given her style of play and movement on the court. Her march to the quarters this year was her best showing yet at the championships at the professional level. She fought valiantly against Belinda Bencic in the fourth, saving match point before moving into the quarters, and ultimately lost to Elina Svitolina in three sets.
The 22-year-old Pole says she is eager to learn and is feeling more comfortable on the grass, and it shows. It is hard to imagine she will not win Wimbledon one day.
Svitolina, Eubanks bring feel-good factor to SW19
Driven by a higher purpose to do everything possible to help her country and the people of Ukraine, Elina Svitolina has been incredibly inspiring to watch these past few weeks.
The former world No. 3 gave birth to her first child Skai last October and returned to action in April to storm to the title in Strasbourg, make the quarters at Roland Garros and now reach the semis at Wimbledon.
Working with one of the best coaches in business in Raemon Sluiter, Svitolina has revamped her game, showcasing a more aggressive style that has resulted in a much higher average winner count.
The Ukrainian has a newfound swagger both on and off the court and has been a real joy to watch. Much respect for this latest supermom to enjoy a stunning return to the WTA tour.
On the men’s side, American Chris Eubanks proved to himself, and the world, he can go toe-to-toe with the very best as the 27-year-old Wimbledon debutant made it to the last eight. He broke the record for most winners struck at a single Wimbledon Championship (since the tournament began keeping record in 1977) by firing 321 through five matches.
En route to the last-eight stage, he knocked out No. 12 seed and British No. 1 Cameron Norrie, as well as No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the quarters, he led former US Open champion and No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev by two-sets-to-one before succumbing in five.
A great player with an even greater personality, Eubanks had the entire Wimbledon crowd rooting for him. He will likely be seeded at the US Open after starting the year outside the top 100.