For 15 years, Djokovic has dedicated his career to being better than them – not just for one match or one tournament, but forever.
Now that his opponents are starting to fall out, Djokovic has begun to look for new motivation. He has already defeated one generation of future stars – Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrei Rublev, Karen Khachanov – who have generally collapsed against him in Grand Slam events, losing half of his aura and his former dominance over them before his first forehand. Sharp angles across the field.
“In moments of pressure, he was playing very well, he wasn’t missing,” said Sener. “it is him.”
Now he has another Grand Slam title in his sights, and the 20-something players want to dethrone him before he finally gets knocked out of the game. He does not often speak of taking any particular pleasure from beating players whose legs have a much lower mileage than their legs, players who must knock out an opponent in the second half of his thirties. But he did just that, briefly, earlier in the week, after beating Rublev, the 25-year-old, with a solid quarter-final effort, losing in four sets.
They want to win, but it hasn’t happened yet,” Djokovic said on court when it was over.
Now Carlos Alcaraz is coming in for the second time in five weeks. In the semi-finals of the French Open, an overexerted Alcaraz suffered from cramps almost all over his body.
Now, the 20-year-old Spanish superstar, the only player under the age of 27 to hold a Grand Slam title, is getting another chance against a more relaxed Djokovic, playing his ninth Wimbledon final. Alcaraz has only played 12 matches at Wimbledon in his life.
“He’s young, he’s hungry – I’m hungry too,” said Djokovic. “Let’s have a feast.”