Wimbledon: Alcaraz and Djokovic ready to feast

 - Alex Sharp

The Wimbledon men's final will see the world No.1 and world No.2 collide in a Roland-Garros rematch.

Carlos Alcaraz et Novak Djokovic / Demi-finales Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

To borrow the words of Novak Djokovic, this is "an ultimate showdown. All eyes of the tennis and sports world will be directed on this Wimbledon final."

It's hard to argue with that.

Two gladiatorial athletes, what's at stake, the contrast of styles and experience. This is global, this is the Wimbledon final.

"If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best"

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic have been similarly dominant, dropping just two sets each en route to the trophy showdown.

It's the Serbian's all-time record 35th major final, a chance to lift a men's record-equalling eighth Wimbledon singles title. In stark contrast it's the Spaniard's first Wimbledon final, but all fortnight he's been grinning at every turn, zipping around the hallowed lawns at SW19 on cloud nine.

"Probably is going to be the best moment of my life," revealed the 20-year-old. "Playing a final here in Wimbledon is something that I dream about when I start playing tennis, it's even better playing against Novak.

"It's going to be a really emotional moment for me. But I'll try to stay calm in that moment. For Novak is one more day, one more moment.

"It gives you extra motivation. I think it's more special to play final against a legend from our sport.

"I always say if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Novak is one of them. Would be great if I'll do it."

Carlos Alcaraz / Demi-finales Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Speaking to reporters following his straight sets passage past Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals, the top seed maintained that Djokovic has "no weakness, really complete player. He's amazing. He does nothing wrong on the court. Physically he's a beast. Mentally he's a beast... I think it's a mix of everything that I admire him the most."

Alcaraz had found the formula to outgun Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) on the high-altitude clay at Madrid last year.

It was then "beast" Djokovic who prevailed at Roland-Garros in the semi-finals last month.

6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. Alcaraz admitted that the "tension" came overbearing, forcing him to suffer full-body cramps at the end of the second set in Paris. That's what the aura of facing a 23-time major winner can do.

Carlos Alcarazn demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2023©Julien Crosnier / FFT

Since the start of 2020 the 20-year-old has been working with a psychologist and they'll need to conjure up a strategy for Alcaraz to avoid a repeat from Roland-Garros.

"I try to get into the court with not as much nerves as I probably had in Paris… I'll do something different from the match," explained the world No.1.

"I think I'll be better on Sunday. Physically I'll do it the same, what I was doing before the matches. Probably in the mental part I will do something different, to stay calm, to show that I'm not nervous. Some exercise in the mental part, or I'll try to forget that I'm going to play a final against Novak."

That's the all-encompassing conundrum pretty much all players succumb to, realising the magnitude of the task facing Djokovic across the net, especially in a Grand Slam final.

The 36-year-old's numbers are simply mind-boggling. His 35th major final could also see him equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slams. Having already collected the Australian Open and Roland-Garros silverware, there is already talk of a Calendar Grand Slam.

Despite reaching 23 majors on Court Philippe-Chatrier, surpassing 'Big Three' rival Rafael Nadal, Djokovic insists the desire is still as intense.

"To be honest with you, I don't feel much difference. Ambition is always the highest for me: always to win the title. It's not changing regardless of the place in history books" claimed Djokovic, who could return to world No.1 with victory on Centre Court.

"Pressure is there. It's still very high. I still feel goose bumps and butterflies and nerves coming into every single match. So, I'm going to be coming into Sunday's final like it's my first."

Aware of Alcaraz's all-court artillery, aware of the youngster's rapid development and vehement support, as ever, Djokovic is very aware of all possible circumstances. The Serbian sees plenty of his all-conquering characteristics in the Spaniard.

The 36-year-old offered up an in-depth preview to this blockbuster final.

"He's so young, but he's incredibly consistent now, also on grass. Which I don't think many people expected him to play so well because his game is basically built and constructed and developed for clay mostly or slower hard courts," analysed the reigning champion.

"But he's been incredibly successful in adapting to the surfaces and demands and challenges of opponents on a given day.

"I see this as a great trait, as a great virtue. I see this as one of my biggest strengths throughout my career, that I was able to constantly develop, adapt, and adjust my game depending on the challenges basically. That's what he's doing very early on in his career.

Novak Djokovic / Demi-finales Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"Kudos to him. Amazing player... I've seen him play in Queen's a little bit. Here he's been very impressive. I think he already developed a very accurate game on grass.

"I think, judging by the performances that we have seen from all the players, I think this is probably the best finals that we could have. We are both in good form.

"I guess I want to take this title without a doubt. I look forward to it. It's going to be a great challenge, greatest challenge that I could have at the moment from any angle really: physical, mental, emotional.

"We had a very good match until he started struggling physically in Paris. I think we really took the level of tennis very high. I think was great for the audience and great for us players to be part of that.

"Yes, I do have more experience playing in many more Grand Slam or Wimbledon finals than him. Still he's in great shape. He's very motivated. He's young. He's hungry.

"I'm hungry, too, so let's have a feast."