The complete Carlos, praise for Marketa, BBC foibles and much more in my look back at talking points from the tournament

Wimbledon's Centre Court exterior during a rain delay
While the fortnight was pockmarked by rain delays, the last weekend was enthralling | Crosscourt View

Before the start of this year’s event, I thought one of the top three women (Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka or Elena Rybakina) would lift the Venus Rosewater Dish, and saw no real threat to Novak Djokovic's title defence.

In terms of drama and spectacle, it’s wonderful to have been so wrong with my predictions.

The final weekend that saw Marketa Vondrousova overcome a nervy Ons Jabeur, followed by Carlos Alcaraz’s extraordinary defeat of Djokovic in five sets, will take a firm place in tennis’ memory bank.

Let’s take a look at some of the main talking points and other things that bothered me over the fortnight.

Complete Carlos

When I first got into tennis, there was a period of flux on the men’s side.

The generation of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi was coming to a close despite the Las Vegan’s Indian Summer, and the new breed of players like Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin were not universally beloved.

Then along came Roger, and then Rafa, Novak, Andy, Juan Martin and Stan and two decades to cherish as a spectator. But in bidding farewell to that contingent, you worried about the immediate future of the men’s game.

Not anymore.

In Carlos Alcaraz, the sport has received a phenomenal 20-year-old who combines otherworldly talent, invention, athleticism, spirit and humility. All the Murcian’s gifts were on show last Sunday as he unlocked the combination to beat Djokovic on Centre Court.

It was a stunning battle that oscillated between the two warriors before Alcaraz seized the moment and held tough at the end of the fifth set. There is nothing harder than closing out Djokovic in a five set match, but the 20-year-old flourished when the pressure was most severe.

Carlos Alcaraz is the complete package in every respect and we are so lucky to watch him develop over the coming years.

Secondary Marketa

We’ll get to Jabeur’s heartbreak momentarily, but let’s dish out some praise to the worthy victor.

After missing last year’s event due to two wrist surgeries, it’s an excellent feat to reach a grand slam final the following season, let alone win your first major. Having already played a match of this magnitude back at Roland Garros 2019, the Czech was able to use her experience and underdog status to overcome Ons.

But it’s important to highlight how talented Vondrousova is. Everything in her game is deceptively brilliant. Her serve, movement, ball-striking, tactical intelligence, feel and defence are all outstanding without being flashy.

Vondrousova made herself incredibly difficult to beat on Saturday and Jabeur could not play well enough, for long enough, to succeed.

The Many Moods of Novak

While arguments will forever rage about the merits of Federer v Nadal v Djokovic, I think there's no doubt that the Serb is the most psychologically complex of the three.

We saw the best and worst aspects of Djokovic's character in the final.

In the plus column, the 36-year-old once again displayed that incomparable resilience during the contest, and admirable humility afterwards. But those good aspects were tarnished by the childish back and forth with the crowd, and the disgraceful racquet smash against the Centre Court net post. Imagine the press coverage if Nick Kyrgios had dented such hallowed wood?

Beyond those elements though, let's applaud a 36-year-old who continues to rewrite tennis history and battle every generation you throw at him.

The Onslaught Falters

In tennis, there's no venue that applies more pressure to players than a grand slam centre court on finals day.

While Ons Jabeur's outing was not as painful as Sabine Lisicki's tearful loss to Marion Bartoli in 2013, it was still a tough watch.

After reeling off an incredible string of victories over major winners Bianca Andreescu, Petra Kvitova, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka, it’s sad that the Tunisian could not quell her nerves in the most important match of the fortnight.

I have no doubt that Jabeur will rebound, but that defeat will forever sting.

A Step Forward for Swiatek?

As you surely know at this stage, Iga Swiatek did not have a superlative CV on grass courts before the summer. Therefore, her run to the semis of Bad Homburg and quarters of SW19 is clearly progress of a kind.

However, her exit amongst a wave of unforced errors and mental doubt raises other questions. Let's see how the North American swing goes for the defending US Open champion.

Quarters Only Given

The layers of tennis can range from gargantuan to extremely fine.

For most players, getting into a grand slam is the best they can hope for. But for top ten stalwarts Andrey Rublev and Jessica Pegula, a place in a grand slam semi-final is their Moby Dick.

The Russian has lost all eight major quarter-finals he has contested while the American is naught for six. Only the worst Twitter troll would begrudge either of them a last four run.

Elina Embraces Aggression

It's all been written about the Ukrainian's successful comeback so I have little to add.

What does excite me though is that Svitolina has returned as a much more aggressive player and that can only bode well.

For most of her career, the 28-year-old exited grand slams due to an odd passivity. Hopefully that mindset is a thing of the past.

Money's Too Tight to Mention

One of the positive changes in recent times is the flow of money towards the early rounds of majors. By reaching the second round at this year’s Championships, competitors received an injection of over $100,000 towards their tour costs.

Roman Safiullin and Christopher Eubanks were the two surprise quarter-finalists on the men’s side and their bank accounts will certainly benefit from the fortnight.

Their prize-money hauls of $450,000 each equals around 39% and 25% of their respective career earnings before the event. For comparison, Djokovic’s runner-up cheque for $1.37 million is less than 1% of his career earnings.

Dump The Queue 2.0

Last year I wrote:

“This may be sacrilegious to some but having spent the first two days of the tournament in the famous queue, I think it’s time to discard it…I think it’s too much to ask for visitors to come to a grand slam with no certainty of whether they’ll even have a ticket (bar success in the ballot or resale portal). Another major issue is that the time spent queuing saps your energy before a serve is even struck.”

After fruitlessly spending five hours in the queue on the first Monday this year, then a similar amount on the Tuesday only for play to be rained off entirely, let’s just say that I haven’t changed my opinion on ‘The Queue’.

BBC Still Lags Behind

After the depression of missing out on live tennis while standing in a field across the road, my horrendous opinion of the queue actually improved when I was forced to watch the action on BBC.

They really aren’t good at showing the tennis these days:

Will BBC’s Wimbledon coverage ever get better?