Carlos Alcaraz’s semi-final dominance suggests he can go all the way

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Daniil Medvedev following the Gentlemen's Singles semi-final match against Daniil Medvedev on day twelve of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz will face Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men’s singles final on Sunday – PA Wire/Adam Davy

By Simon Briggs at Wimbledon

Ten years on from Novak Djokovic’s last defeat on Centre Court, it is clearly going to take a special player to emulate what Andy Murray did on that blazing summer’s day in 2013, with the roars of the crowd behind him.

On Friday, Carlos Alcaraz auditioned for this role, and did everything possible to suggest that he is tennis’s answer to St George: the man who can slay the dragon

After completing his 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniil Medvedev, Alcaraz was asked by on-court interviewer Rishi Persad to consider the outlook for the final

“I saw that he is unbeaten since 2013 on this court so tough challenge for me,” said Alcaraz of Djokovic. “Everyone knows the legend that he is. But I dream of playing a final here, and it will be even more special playing against Novak. Is no time to be afraid, no time to be tired. I’m going to go for it, and see what happens.”

At 20, Alcaraz is the youngest man to reach a Wimbledon final since his compatriot Rafael Nadal in 2006 – and only the third Spaniard to do so after Nadal and Manuel Santana. In person, he is dynamite to watch, and the fans on Centre Court will surely back him on Sunday.

It took Alcaraz just 1hr 50min to subdue Medvedev – the world No3 – in a performance that had hardly any flaws. He completed the win with a crazy series of retrieval shots on match point, before slamming a full-force forehand winner, and then holding both arms aloft in an X-shaped victory salute.

The match showed off Alcaraz’s extraordinary attacking range. There were games where he would win one point with a screaming 100mph forehand, the next with a crafty slice and a third with a delicate drop shot.

But it was the drop shot which was the most influential overall. Medvedev stands so deep to return serve that he leaves acres of space at the front of the court, and there must have been a dozen occasions when Alcaraz dinked his first shot of the rally just over the net.

“This one probably was one of my best matches, not only on grass but on the tour,” said Alcaraz later. “I rate like 8 from 10, something like that. It was amazing for me. I showed a great level.”

With 46 wins from his last 50 matches, Alcaraz has been brushing past almost every opponent in 2023, with the notable exception of Djokovic. In Paris five weeks ago, he met Stefanos Tsitsipas – another player on the same sort of level as Medvedev – and absolutely humbled him by a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 scoreline. (The same number of games, you might notice, as Alcaraz dropped on Friday).

But then came Djokovic, and a semi-final that was boiling up into one of the great contests until Alcaraz’s calf cramped up early in the third set. “I have never felt that tension that I did in that match,” Alcaraz admitted after that match. “Is not easy to play against Novak, you know. If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies. Next time that I’m gonna face Novak, I hope to be different, but the nerves will be there.”

Stunning Carlos Alcaraz sets up Wimbledon final showdown with Novak Djokovic

Carlos Alcaraz has become a crowd favourite – Getty Images/Shi Tang

The spectacular nature of Alcaraz’s game explains why the bookmakers were quoting him as the favourite for that meeting in Paris. And the same sense of excitement was gripping most of the BBC’s pundits on Friday night.

If there were marks for artistic impression, Alcaraz’s sparkling demolition of Medvedev would be worth considerably more than Djokovic’s typically nuggety win over Jannik Sinner in the earlier semi-final. Yet history suggests that, when Djokovic is fit and focused at a major, he is unbeatable against anyone other than Nadal.

In the end, this sport is about more than just eye-catching shots. Djokovic knows better than anyone how to wrap his opponent up in a spider’s web of different angles and trajectories. He also covers the court with uncanny ease for a 36-year-old. Perhaps his top speed is not on a par with that of Alcaraz, who regularly comes up with apparently impossible retrieval shots, but he won’t leave big holes to exploit in the way that Medvedev did.

“It’s going to be a really emotional moment for me,” said Alcaraz of the final. “But I’ll try to stay calm in that moment. For Novak is one more day, one more moment. For me, it’s going to be the best moment of my life I think.

“I always wanted to win all the grand slams [but] Wimbledon is the most beautiful tournament that I played. It could be amazing for me – not only win a Wimbledon title but do it against Novak. I always say if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

The important thing is that we have got the men’s final this tournament was crying out for: world No1 vs world No2, and youthful exuberance against mature efficiency. Alcaraz still faces one of the most demanding challenges in any sport on Sunday. But if anyone can stop Djokovic’s apparently inexorable drive towards the calendar slam, he can.

Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev, as it happened

Table of Contents

07:30 PM BST

Watch: Alcaraz seals win in style

07:22 PM BST

Alcaraz: I will believe I can beat him

Everyone knows the legend he is. He is going to be really difficult. I will fight. That’s myself. I will believe in myself, I will believe I can beat him here.

I saw that he is unbeaten here since 2013 on this court so it’s going to be challenging but I am ready for this. It will be special playing against Novak but it is a final. There’s no time to be afraid, no time to be tired.

I will go for it and lets see what happens.

07:14 PM BST

World No 1 vs world No 2 for the Wimbledon title on Sunday

Wimbledon 2023 live: Stunning Carlos Alcaraz sets up Novak Djokovic showdown

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates as he leaves the court after his victory against Daniil Medvedev – Getty Images/Glyn Kirk

Wimbledon 2023 live: Stunning Carlos Alcaraz sets up Novak Djokovic showdown

Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory – Getty Images/TPN

07:09 PM BST

More reaction from Alcaraz

It was really difficult to close the match, it’s never easy, you have to be really focused.

Daniil didn’t want to lose, he followed until last ball, he is a fighter, a runner.

I had to show my best in that tough moment, I had to play aggressive and be myself all the time. I think that was the key to close that match.

07:03 PM BST

Alcaraz reacts

It’s a dream for me playing in a semi-final here.

To play a final at Wimbledon, I can’t believe it. It’s an amazing moment for me, it’s time to keep dreaming.

06:57 PM BST

The winning moment for Alcaraz

06:54 PM BST

Pat Cash on BBC Five Live

Alcaraz absolutely just demolished the number three player in the world.

06:44 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 Medvedev*

Defensive backhand from Alcaraz drifts long, 0-15. Medvedev hits a backhand long, 15-15. Bad miss that.

Medvedev sliced backhand floats into the tramlines, 30-15. Medvedev finds the gap and threads a forehand winner down the line, 30-30.

Medvedev forehand return long, match point. Incredible rally. Both players on the attack, drop volley from Medvedev, Alcaraz sprints up to the ball and hits a forehand winner.

GAME. SET. MATCH. ALCARAZ.

06:39 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 6-3, 5-3 Medvedev

Double fault by Medvedev, 30-30. Deep return by Alcaraz and Medvedev hurriedly hits a forehand long, 30-40.

103mph Medvedev second serve is good but Alcaraz hits an even better forehand return and Medvedev nets.

Alcaraz to serve for the match next.

06:35 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3, 4-3 Medvedev*

Alcaraz tries an outrageous between-the-legs volley but nets, 15-15. The arrogance of youth!

Medvedev volley winner, 15-40. Two break points. Alcaraz tries to serve and volley but is out of position and hits a backhand long.

Three breaks of serve in a row.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Daniil Medvedev reacts during his semi final match against Carlos Alcaraz – Reuters/Toby Melville

06:31 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 6-3, 4-2 Medvedev

Incredible speed by Alcaraz to reach a Medvedev drop shot and flick the ball down the line for a winner, 0-15.

Massive cross-court forehand winner by Alcaraz, 0-30. Deep Alcaraz return and Medvedev’s backhand goes long, 15-40.

Medvedev saves the first break point. And the second miraculously as he gets the ball back in play after a huge Alcaraz forehand then the Spaniard goes long with a forehand.

Break point Alcaraz after a Medvedev double fault. 126mph wide serve by Medvedev is unreturned, deuce.

Medvedev tries to sneak into the net but Alcaraz drops his backhand low and at Medvedev’s feet and he nets a backhand, break point.

Saved again with a volley winner, deuce. Medvedev tries to be too cute with a volley and nets, fifth break point for Alcaraz.

Big forehand approach by Alcaraz, Medvedev lifts up a lob and Alcaraz puts away an easy overhead smash to break again.

06:23 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3, 3-2 Medvedev*

Chance for Medvedev here as Alcaraz nets a forehand, 0-30. Another forehand into the net and it’s three break points.

Alcaraz saves the first. But not the second as he hits a double fault. Strange game.

Alcaraz has spoken in the past about losing focus, is this one of those moments?

06:18 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 6-3, 3-1 Medvedev

109mph wide ace from Medvedev, 30-15. Big serve down the T is unreturned by Alcaraz, 40-15

Medvedev finally stops the bleeding with an overhead smash winner after great scrambling by Alcaraz.

06:15 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3, 2-0 Medvedev*

Double fault from Alcaraz, 30-30. A rare error from him today. Serve and volley winner from Alcaraz, 40-30.

Fifth game in a row for Alcaraz as Medvedev hits a forehand return long.

06:12 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 6-3, 2-0 Medvedev

Alcaraz draws Medvedev into the nets with a short angled slice and the Russian nets a backhand, 15-30. Medvedev hits a wild double fault, 15-40.

Alcaraz forehand return rushes Medvedev and he hits a forehand into the tramlines.

It is unravelling very quickly for him. Alcaraz breaks again.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Daniil Medvedev is being outclassed by Alcaraz – Reuters/Dylan Martinez

06:09 PM BST

Third Set: Alcaraz 6-3, 6-3, 1-0 Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

The onslaught continues from Alcaraz as he holds to love again with a drop shot. The crowd are in awe of what they are witnessing from the world No 1.

06:07 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 6-3 Medvedev

Alcaraz on the attack again as he hits a forehand winner, 0-30. Too good from Alcaraz as he sends Medvedev the wrong way with a sliced backhand winner, three set points.

Medvedev saves the first. Then the second. But not the third as Medvedev hits a backhand error.

One set away from the dream final.

06:02 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 5-3 Medvedev*

Yet another routine love hold for Alcaraz. Medvedev looks forlornly at his support box. He looks a little lost out there.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Carlos Alcaraz in action – AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth

05:59 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 4-3 Medvedev

Alcaraz jumps all over Medvedev’s second serve and crushes a cross-court return which the third seed can’t get back in play, 30-30.

But Medvedev hangs on to his serve to keep himself in touch.

05:57 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 4-2 Medvedev*

Medvedev is one of the great returners in the men’s game but today he’s getting just 66 per cent of returns back in play and it is allowing Alcaraz to hold serve very comfortably.

Alcaraz has faced just one break point so far.

05:52 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 3-2 Medvedev

Good serving from Medvedev, who is looking very calm but must be wondering how he comes back from this position.

Alcaraz forehand return long and Medvedev holds.

05:51 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 3-1 Medvedev*

Medvedev backhand return winner down the line, 30-30. His best shot of the match.

Medvedev is having to cover so much ground as Alcaraz pulls him in all directions. Alcaraz consolidates the break when Medvedev’s forehand lands in the tramlines.

05:46 PM BST

Alcaraz* 6-3, 2-1 Medvedev

Backhand error from Medvedev, 15-30. Forehand long from Medvedev, two break points. Very loose play by the Russian.

He saves the first break point when Alcaraz’s sliced backhand drifts wide. Then the second when Alcaraz nets a forehand.

Cente Court erupts after Alcaraz shows great reflexes and anticipation to stay in the rally and Medvedev nets a forehand, break point.

Aggressive return by Alcaraz and Medvedev hits a defensive forehand long. The world No 1 gets the break. Medvedev is shellshocked.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning the opening set – PA/Victoria Jones

05:40 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3, 1-1 Medvedev*

No change in Medvedev’s starting position on the return, still very deep.

But maybe his tactical decision confuses Alcaraz, who hits a double fault, 30-40. Alcaraz saves it with an ace down the T.

And he survives that scare with a drop shot winner.

05:36 PM BST

Second Set: Alcaraz* 6-3, 0-1 Medvedev (*denotes next server)

Medvedev ends Alcaraz’s three-game streak with a service hold to 15, finishing with a backhand winner.

05:30 PM BST

Twitter reacts

05:29 PM BST

Alcaraz 6-3 Medvedev*

Medvedev backhand return long, 30-0. Another missed return from the Russian and it’s three set points.

Alcaraz first serve down the T and Medvedev’s forehand goes long. Too good from the world No 1.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Alcaraz took the first set – Getty Images)/Sebastien Bozon

05:27 PM BST

Alcaraz* 5-3 Medvedev

124mph ace from Medvedev, 30-30. Medvedev doesn’t do enough with a drop shot, Alcaraz whips a forehand down the line and Medvedev can’t get the ball back in play, 30-40.

Alcaraz breaks after a deep return and a scrambling Medvedev hits a forehand long.

05:22 PM BST

Alcaraz 4-3 Medvedev*

Alcaraz giving a taste of his power and ability to dictate as he drags Medvedev out of position and draws the error, 30-15.

Volley winner from Alcaraz, 40-15. And he holds when Medvedev nets a backhand.

05:18 PM BST

Alcaraz* 3-3 Medvedev

Alcaraz on the attack with a beautifully hit forehand and Medvedev goes wide with a backhand, 15-30.

Alcaraz forehand into the net, 30-30. 123mph first serve from Medvedev is unreturned and that’s a good hold by the Russian.

05:13 PM BST

Alcaraz 3-2 Medvedev*

Lovely soft hands by Alcaraz on a drop shot, 30-15. He spotted Medvedev standing way too far back.

Another delicately hit drop shot from Alcaraz is a winner. And he holds with a drop volley winner.

Medvedev might need to change tactics here. His position on the court is far too defensive.

05:09 PM BST

Alcaraz* 2-2 Medvedev

Drop shot from Alcaraz drags Medvedev to the net and he passes the Russian with a backhand winner down the line, 0-15.

Medvedev backhand winner down the line, 15-15. Sliced approach shot by Alcaraz but Medvedev keeps his cool and flicks a backhand pass past Alcaraz, 40-15.

Medvedev forehand winner down the line to win the game. Brilliant shot.

Wimbledon 2023 live: Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev latest updates

Carlos Alcaraz in action against Daniil Medvedev – Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

05:04 PM BST

Alcaraz 2-1 Medvedev*

Slow first serve by Alcaraz, capitalising on Medvedev’s deep starting position and he draws the return error, 30-15.

Medvedev backhand into the net, 40-30. Blistering cross-court forehand winner from Medvedev, deuce. Stunning shot.

Alcaraz holds when Medvedev’s return goes long.

04:59 PM BST

Alcaraz* 1-1 Medvedev

Medvedev holds to 15 as he finds his range early.

04:57 PM BST

First Set: Carlos Alcaraz 1-0 Daniil Medvedev* (*denotes next server)

Like he has done for much of the tournament, Medvedev is standing metres behind the baseline to return the Alcaraz serve.

And the Spaniard holds serve to love after Medvedev hits a forehand error.

04:51 PM BST

Here we go!

04:28 PM BST

Djokovic wins in straight sets

He qualifies for his eighth final by winning the third set tie-break.

04:08 PM BST

Djokovic saves two set points

He held his nerve at 15-40 to power back and tie the third set up at five-all. He’s deservedly very pleased with himself.

03:52 PM BST

What does making the semi mean for Alcaraz?

03:41 PM BST

Meanwhile in the first semi-final

Novak Djokovic is two sets up and the third set is going with serve so far at 2-2.

01:35 PM BST

Preview: ‘Unbelievable’ Spaniard takes on ‘Octopus’

Hello and welcome to coverage of the second Wimbledon men’s semi-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev. World No 1 Alcaraz has enjoyed an excellent season, backing up his win at the US Open last year with five titles including a victory over Medvedev in Indian Wells. But the Spaniard expects a tough battle on Centre Court.

“Well, he’s really tall, you know,” he said. “He’s playing great here on grass. He has a great, great year as well. I lost the first match we played here on grass. So I have to learn about it.

“But I’m going to enjoy the semi-final. I think I’m playing great, [and I have] a lot of confidence right now. So it’s going to be a really good match I think. I’m going to enjoy [it]. He’s really complete player. I’m going to say, I think [Andrey] Rublev said a few times, he’s an octopus. He catches every ball. It is amazing. He’s an amazing athlete.

“I think [he has] a mix of everything. He does almost everything well.”

Far from wanting revenge over Alcaraz for his 6-3, 6-2 defeat in California, Medvedev thinks the defeat will have little impact on today’s match.

”I think Indian Wells is not going to count a lot here,” he said. “So slow Indian Wells. I mean, it’s not going to be the same. Wimbledon, the ball bounces lower. The serve is more important. There, I felt like I couldn’t get free points with the serve.

“I saw some of his matches. I saw a little bit against Matteo. Did I see anything else? I’m not sure actually. For sure [I’m] going to discuss this tactically with my coach. It’s interesting to play someone like Carlos. He is an amazing, amazing player. He’s still 19, right? What he continues to do is just unbelievable. He doesn’t stop. I don’t think he will.

“But I played a lot of great players in my career. I managed to win many times. So I’m going to try to do my best. If I show my best, I’ll have my chances.”

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