Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz basked Monday in the glow of thrilling victory over the weekend — but he conceded that he could have easily lost the title match in straight sets.
Alcaraz topped Novak Djokovic in five sets Sunday to win the world's most famous tennis tournament in a match he said could have easily gone the other way.
Speaking on NBC's "TODAY" show, Alcaraz said he was "really, really glad" to have won the second set.
“If not, probably I could have lost, you know, in the straight sets,” he said. “I just believe in myself all of the time.”
Djokovic dominated the first set before Alcaraz won a thrilling tiebreaker to win the second and set the stage for an epic five-set showdown that lasted almost five hours.
Alcaraz said that even as Djokovic dominated the early play, he talked himself into remaining upbeat, knowing his chances to win games and get back into the match would come.
"It was a dream come true for me" just to play for the championship, Alcaraz said. "It was tough to deal with the nerves facing Novak on that stage."
Alcaraz said he caught a glimpse of Felipe shouting an encouraging "vamos" after he won points.
"I was not thinking about it. I tried not to think about it," he said. "But sometimes it's difficult to stay away from that. It's your own Spanish king watching you, supporting you.”
Alcaraz became the youngest men's champ since 17-year-old Boris Becker won it in 1985.
Djokovic, 36, has won seven men's singles titles and is still one short of the record eight championships of the recently retired Roger Federer.
Both Alcaraz and Djokovic are expected to play in the U.S. Open this year.