Expert Picks — Who Will Win the 2023 Wimbledon Championship?

ESPN.comJul 15, 2023, 8:47 AM ET8 minutes of reading

Carlos Alcaraz (left) and Novak Djokovic met in the semifinals of the French Open. Alcaraz cramped badly during the match and went on to lose to Djokovic.Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The match we’ve all been waiting for is on Sunday: No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 2 Novak Djokovic. If Djokovic wins, he will set the record for most Grand Slam titles in the Open era. If Alcaraz takes the title, it will be his second major win and a huge upset. Who will do it? We asked our experts:

What can Alcaraz do to defeat Djokovic?

Pam Shriver: Alcaraz needs to manage the emotions of playing the biggest match in tennis, a Wimbledon final against Djokovic, who is compiling the best resume in tennis history. We often talk about how important the intangibles are, but never have they been more important than this game. Alcaraz has the power, variety, mobility and mentality to beat Djokovic if the 20-year-old can rise to the occasion. Obviously, to beat Djokovic over 5 sets, a player must play well in all aspects of the game. It feels a little too early in Alcaraz’s career for him to beat Djokovic. It took Nadal a few tries to beat Federer to grass.

Bill Connelly: Stay loose before the game! Over the first five sets that Alcaraz played against Djokovic, he won three of them and matched the legend’s level almost all the time. We know Alcaraz is brave and fast, we know how hard he can hit a tennis ball and, as he kept reminding us against Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals, we know he can also be brutally accurate. Alcaraz is changing the dimensions of the track and the last month has shown us that he is also quickly figuring out life on grass.

We also know that, as with Djokovic early in his own career, Alcaraz’s body sometimes reaches its limits. He has had to fight through some injuries, and of course he cramped significantly in the heat of the moment against Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open. If Alcaraz is able to play his game and play with top physicality, he could definitely give Djokovic a challenge.

Tom Hamilton: As well as doing everything he can to avoid the cramp that derailed him at Roland Garros, Alcaraz needs to park all thoughts of the man opposite him on Sunday. Djokovic lives rent-free in the minds of most of his competitors. Alcaraz is certainly an admirer of Djokovic and has spoken of studying how he moves on grass, but he also knows the dominance he is up against.

Moments after Alcaraz won at Queen’s in June, he recited Djokovic’s Wimbledon record – Djokovic had won 86 matches at the time, more than the rest of the top 20 combined. Such is the extent of the task Alcaraz faces on Sunday. He needs to ignore that, focus on what he has managed to achieve over the last fortnight and start well. If he does, Alcaraz could upset the most dominant force in men’s tennis.

D’Arcy Maine: Eat a hearty meal, drink lots of water and watch the practice footage his dad took of Djokovic this week? I kid, I kid.

It’s impossible not to think back to their semi-final meeting at the French Open last month here and point out the obvious: Alcaraz will need to remain as calm and relaxed as possible going into this match. Alcaraz played two incredibly competitive sets in Paris against Djokovic before cramping due to the tension and nerves he was feeling. His team is more than aware of this and will hopefully use every strategy they have to prevent the same situation from happening again, including working with his sports psychologist.

During his press conference on Friday, Alcaraz said he would do some mental exercises before the match “to forget that I have to play a final against Novak.” If he can at least stay healthy throughout the match, and in turn play his brand of athletic tennis throughout, he has a chance.

Alyssa Roenigk: Do you remember the last shot of Alcaraz’s semi-final last Friday, when Medvedev pulled him to the net and he whipped in a lightning forehand winner? Such shots do no harm. Djokovic is the best mover in the game and certainly the best on grass, so crafty drop shots won’t work against him at the rate they did against Medvedev. Alcaraz will need to be creative and willing to adapt as the fight progresses.

To that end, starting better would help. Alcaraz has been close in his first sets here and if he doesn’t come out swinging on Sunday, Djokovic will be up a set before he knows it. But let’s also be real. No one has properly answered this question in six years. An Alcaraz win would be a huge upset.

Alcaraz is reportedly least comfortable on grass, but he has looked particularly strong here at Wimbledon.EPA/SHOT ACTION

What can Djokovic do to defeat Alcaraz?

Shriver: Djokovic has not lost a match on Center Court in the past 10 years. His tactical, technical and mental approach adds up to him having the longest prime time in a career. The aura Djokovic carries on the court is as great as any other tennis player ever.

Connelly: On a macro level, there is the general advice of “endure, stretch, adapt, force Alcaraz to play at his highest level for four hours”. On a micro level, I think it’s simpler: Get your first serve. Alcaraz swallowed Djokovic’s second serve in their French Open match; while Djokovic typically wins about 57% of his second-serve points (56% against top-10 opponents), he was at 43% against Alcaraz in Paris, and that even includes the two blowout sets. He faced 10 break points in the first two sets, while creating just five of them on Alcaraz’s serve. Granted, he saved eight of the 10 because he’s Novak Djokovic, but he was under a lot of pressure. It could happen again if he gives Alcaraz many second serves.

Hamilton: Djokovic doesn’t need to mix things up, he knows every blade of grass on Center Court. The stats are frankly ridiculous and his dominance shows no signs of slowing down. Even the unexpected “hindance” call didn’t faze him against Jannik Sinner on Friday. So for Djokovic, it’s the same as he’s always done. He will use the crowd in his own way – if he feels they are backing Alcaraz, he will use it as fuel. If he hears any critics, he channels that little bit into his game. This is his court and he just needs to stick with what has served him so well.

Maine: Exactly what he has done all tournament, and all season, and in every game since 2018 at the All England Club. It is perfection. No notes. Djokovic has pretty much everything going into this match, starting with experience. He will have to rely on that and the unforgettable mental maturity he has demonstrated of late to help him stay focused and play his best game, even during Alcaraz’s most sensational and highlight-worthy points, or if the crowd not necessarily on his side. During Alcaraz’s only win over Djokovic, in Madrid in 2022, Djokovic squandered three break opportunities to serve for the match in the second set, and he will need to limit such moments of weakness or lapses because Alcaraz could prey on such vulnerability.

Rønigk: The last time Djokovic lost a match at Wimbledon, Alcaraz was 14 and playing junior tennis. This is Djokovic’s record 35th Grand Slam singles final and Alcaraz’s second. If Djokovic has anything to lean on other than his vastly improved service game and best feet on grass, it’s his experience in big matches, decades of Center Court dominance and the place he surely occupies in Alcaraz’s mind. Djokovic is playing as well as he ever has on all surfaces, and regardless of his game plan, he needs to stick to it. He cannot be drawn into Alcaraz’s game if he finds himself trailing the 20-year-old early on.

Djokovic is looking for his eighth Wimbledon title.Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s winning?

Shriver: Djokovic will win his 24th major title on Sunday and then advance to the US Open with the calendar year’s Grand Slam on the line.

Connelly: “Beat Djokovic in a best-of-five” is pretty much the only test Alcaraz has failed to pass over the past two years. He’s played for it — he’s played for absolutely anything — but the mental game will always favor Djokovic, and hey, I’m never one to bet against a streak. Djokovic has won 34 straight matches at Wimbledon and I’m not going to pick him to lose one until he reminds us that he can. Djokovic in 4.

Hamilton: This has the makings of a true Wimbledon epic. Alcaraz will be the dominant force in men’s tennis for the next decade, but this is still Djokovic’s stage. Djokovic can allow himself to have the odd momentary slip and still come through – he’s that good. I expect the two to trade sets, but for Djokovic to pull away and close it out in four, giving another chance at a calendar Grand Slam.

Maine: While Alcaraz’s game has improved dramatically in just a few weeks on grass, it is hard to see him being able to stop Djokovic on this surface in a tournament where he has achieved so much success and been so dominant. Djokovic wins major No. 24 in four sets.

Rønigk: Nobody would bet against Djokovic in a Wimbledon final, especially given the way he is playing right now. Alcaraz will have to play flawless tennis as he did in the last two sets against Holger Rune. Last May, Alcaraz found a way to beat Djokovic in Madrid. But it was on clay in a best-of-three format. Beating the 23-time Slam winner in best-of-five tennis on Center Court is a completely different challenge and will require emotional and physical stamina and a ton of faith. Alcaraz said he will do his best to forget that he is playing in a final against Djokovic. Djokovic will do everything he can to remind him of that.

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