For years has tennis world wondered who next after the Big Three. There have been plenty of promising stars in Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas over the last few years who have been backed to take over the reign but none failed to establish their consistency or show that level of dominance at the grandest stage. Carlos Alcaraz too left emerged as a promising start and with his US Open win last year, he did establish himself as the face of the Next Gen. But it was only until his stupendous win against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon did he truly emerge as the true heir to the Big Three.
No player in the last six years had beaten Djokovic at Wimbledon. No player in the last 10 years had ever beaten Djokovic on Centre Court. And by losing the first set in the final, Alcaraz had no odds in his favour as no player has beaten Djokovic at the Slam after coming back from a set down with the Serb owing a staggering 78-0 record. But Alcaraz defied all odds, all history to take down the world no.2 at the SW19 to claim his second Grand Slam trophy.
More than a fortnight after that incredible win in London, former world No 5 Jimmy Arias has made a bombastic remark comparing Alcaraz with Djokovic and rest of the players on tour, saying that the Spaniard, at his best, can outlast everyone, including the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
Speaking on Tennis Channel’s Inside-In podcast, Arias said: “Before the Wimbledon final, a couple of people asked me and I said – and this maybe sounds crazy but – he (Alcaraz) at his best level is better than anybody else. He’s better than Djokovic, Djokovic can’t get to the level that Alcaraz [can].
“This is the best level I’ve seen – him at his best. I didn’t know if he was gonna be able to bring it in a Wimbledon final against Djokovic, but I did also know that he’d be more relaxed than he was at the French [Open]. The French was a strange situation for him because he was playing, at the time a 22-time Grand Slam champion, and he’s favourite, by a wide margin. And I thought that was a strange mental hurdle for him.
“In the Wimbledon final, it was the other way. Now Djokovic is favourite and I knew he (Alcaraz) would play relaxed, or I thought he would, but it’s a Wimbledon final.”
The American, who is also a former US Open semifinalist, admitted that the 20-year-old has impressively implemented qualities of the Big Three in his game at a very young age.
“(On Djokovic) It’s so strange for me to say that the greatest player of all time’s peak isn’t as good as this kid who is 20 years old. But you watch Alcaraz and I don’t know how he’s done it so quickly. He’s sort of taken the ‘Big Three’ and combined all their strengths and put them into himself,” continued Arias.
“He has sort of the offensive weapons of Federer, he’s got the heart of Nadal from what we’ve seen. I mean, how does he serve out the final game at Wimbledon, with playing Djokovic? He made every first serve and Djokovic only missed one return and it still didn’t faze him in any way.”