For 15 years, Djokovic dedicated his career to being better than them – not just for one match or one tournament, but forever.
Now that his rivals are on the road, Djokovic has been looking for new motivation. He has already largely defeated a generation of future stars – Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, who generally crumble against him in Grand Slam events, half-struck by his aura and his past dominance of them before his first forehand angles sharply across the yard.
“In the pressure moments, he played very well, there was no shortage,” Sinner said. “That’s him.”
Now he has another Grand Slam title in his sights, and the 20-something starters want to topple him before he finally leaves the game. He doesn’t often talk about taking any particular pleasure from beating players whose legs have so much less mileage than his, players who should really be dismissing an opponent in the second half of their thirties. But he did just that, briefly, earlier in the week after defeating Rublev, who is 25 and put in a solid effort in the quarterfinals, losing in four sets.
“They want to win, but it’s not happening yet,” Djokovic said on court when it ended.
Now comes Carlos Alcaraz for the second time in five weeks. In the French Open semifinals, an overstretched Alcaraz suffered near-paralyzing full-body cramps.
Now, the 20-year-old Spanish star, the only player younger than 27 with a Grand Slam title, gets another chance against an even more relaxed Djokovic, playing in his ninth Wimbledon final. Alcaraz played only 12 matches at Wimbledon in his life.
“He’s young, he’s hungry — I’m hungry too,” Djokovic said. “Let’s have a feast.”