Djokovic's Wimbledon defeat does not mark changing of the guard, says Bartoli

By Sports Desk July 18, 2023

Novak Djokovic will remain a force at the top of men's tennis despite the disruption to his dominance that has been caused by Carlos Alcaraz.

That is the view of former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli after the Serbian missed out on a fifth consecutive title, which would have been a record-equalling eighth overall, at the All England Club on Sunday.

Roared on by the Centre Court crowd, Alcaraz produced a dynamic performance in the final to earn a spirited five-set victory, storming back to win having lost the first set 6-1.

Despite only just turning 20, the Spaniard now has two grand slam titles to his name, having won the US Open last year.

And it is in New York where Djokovic will look to respond to only his second loss in nine Wimbledon finals.

Despite Djokovic's setback, Bartoli is confident 23-time grand slam winner is primed to win multiple further majors and one day reach 25, saying the veteran remains the man to beat.

"As the champion it is never nice to lose for sure and it will sting for a few days," Bartoli said to Stats Perform.

"I don't think he's going to come out of this match like 'yeah, it's fine I just lost it', as you don't win 23 grand slams without being a fierce competitor and without hating to lose.

"But there is the US Open coming up this year, so there is a lot on the line for him.

"He has absolutely no points to defend [in the US Open] and then he has the year-end championship [ATP Finals] that he won at the end of last year. 

"On the other end Alcaraz has the US Open to defend so it's more than likely that Novak Djokovic will be able to regain that number one ranking spot at the end of the US summer swing.

"He's going to get himself ready for that. I'm not sure what kind of schedule he will play, whether he's going to play the two Masters events before or maybe just one and go to the US Open because he's 36 and you just can't have the same schedule as someone like Carlos Alcaraz has, that is obvious.

"But can he pass and go over Margaret Court [on 24 major titles]? Absolutely. He's going to be the favourite to win the US Open equally with Alcaraz and he will be the overall favourite to win the next Australian Open.

"So absolutely it is very much more than achievable for him [to pass Court] and obviously I think by the end of 2024 that's where he should stand — at least 25 Grand Slams and alone on top of the world."

Djokovic had not lost at Wimbledon since going down to Tomas Berdych in the 2017 quarter-finals and the final was his first loss on Centre Court for 10 years, since Andy Murray beat him in the famous 2013 final, the same year when Bartoli won on the women's side.

Bartoli added: "So for sure it's just going to sting for him when he looks back at those tapes and sees back those points that he missed – two backhands during the tie-break, the drop shot that he missed in the net at 3-2 for him in the breaker, sees the swing volley that he decided to actually take in the air – maybe just let it drop and see if the ball actually will stay in the court or not.

"It is just two or three crucial points here and there that made the whole result at the end of the match change. He had set point to go up two sets to love. I think if he covered there, it is completely different. 

"He had a break point at the beginning of the fifth to go 2-0 up after winning the fourth and was carrying the whole momentum with him, so he was extremely close."

Bartoli thinks the rise of Alcaraz epitomises the new style of modern players, but thinks Djokovic's complete game means he is still well-placed to mix it with rising stars.

Alcaraz is the youngest player in the Open Era to win the singles title at both the US Open and Wimbledon.

But asked if the win for Alcaraz was a changing of the guard, she replied: "No, but I felt it was a new tennis. 

"It was very much a sort of new complete tennis that we'll be able to witness from the new generation of players coming in. I include in that Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner as the same [style] as Alcaraz. 

"The defence is there, the court coverage is there, the speed is there, coming to the net is there, playing the dropshot is there, play aggressive and defensive, and they can last for whatever time is required on the court. And in some sort of way in the middle, there is Daniil Medvedev and Stefan Tsitsipas too.

"That's what the new tennis on the men's side is looking for. Maybe for the next 10 years or so. And I think very much Novak was up to the task [against Alcaraz].

"So I don't think it was a change of the guard. I just felt it was a new tennis and because Novak has that type of tennis obviously he can sustain that level." 

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