Now he showed his courage on grass, against the best players in the most prestigious tournament in the world. During an on-court ceremony after the match, Djokovic, who broke down in tears at the mention of his son, graciously praised Alcaraz. He noted that, yes, he knew Alcaraz would be an instant force on red clay and blue paint. Now, grass, too? Already?

“I didn’t expect him to play so well this year on grass,” Djokovic said. “But he proved that he is the best player in the world, without a doubt. He plays some amazing tennis on different surfaces and he deserves to be where he is.”

Even before the racket crash, there was another extended moment when Djokovic may have gotten the signal that he was in for a tough few years.

With Djokovic serving at 1-3 in the third set, the two men played a 32-point game with 13 doubles that lasted more than 26 minutes. Both players ran and dived and made wonderful shots, and the spectators screamed with joy at the extraordinary play, and the courage shown.

“The nerve that Alcaraz showed was absolutely remarkable,” Evert said.

Finally, after Djokovic hit a forehand into the net, Alcaraz broke serve again. He put his finger to his ear, asking the crowd for more noise, and right there Djokovic had to know. For as many years as he can last, Alcaraz will likely be there as well, even on grass.

“I think it’s good for the sport, 1 and 2 in the world facing each other in an almost five-hour, five-set thriller,” Djokovic said. “Couldn’t be better for our sport in general.”

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