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The Wimbledon finals are set: Djokovic returns; a new women's champ

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This weekend is the final one for tennis fans to enjoy strawberries and cream or sip a Pimm's Cup. The men's and women's finals are set. On Saturday, two players who have never won a Wimbledon title before will compete in the women's championship. And on the men's side, Novak Djokovic will get his chance at a 24th Grand Slam title on Sunday. Here to tell us more about all the matches is Alyssa Roenigk, senior writer at ESPN. We have found her just off Centre Court. Hi there.

ALYSSA ROENIGK: Thank you so much for having me on.

KELLY: So I - today was a big day of tennis I gather, despite the weather, which was lurking in the 50s and rain has been pouring down all day.

ROENIGK: It has. I will say this is my fourth or fifth Wimbledon - by far the coldest, rainiest Wimbledon I've attended. We keep joking and all the locals are joking that this is what a British Grand Slam is meant to feel like.

KELLY: (Laughter).

ROENIGK: Yeah, it's been pretty rainy. And all of the - unfortunately, all of the matches on the outside courts were canceled today.

KELLY: Yeah. It's not Wimbledon unless you are wearing many layers. OK. So it looked - let's get to today's action. It looked, from watching on this side of the Atlantic, as though Spain's Carlos Alcaraz completely owned Daniil Medvedev of Russia. Quick three sets, and he's now in his first Wimbledon final.

ROENIGK: It was a little surprising, I have to say maybe it's the cold, but I still have goosebumps from that final shot. We know Carlos Alcaraz is a showman, but that final shot, Medvedev brought him to the net, and he just whipped that crosscourt forehand, throws his hands up in the air and then looks to his box. And he's got this incredible team around him, and they're all celebrating. His parents and little brother here. Alcaraz looked so, so strong today.

KELLY: Now, of course, he's going to have to stay strong because he is up against Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who is 36 and seems to keep getting better every year. What are you watching for on this matchup?

ROENIGK: He really is. He said after the match, I think 36 is the new 26. You know, fans who only watch Grand Slam tennis are going to remember the French Open. They met in the semifinal. Alcaraz - it was the one time we've seen him really look like a young, inexperienced player at majors. In the weeks since he lost that match to Djokovic, he has not lost a match. You know, there was one player we thought had a chance to beat Djokovic and delay that 24th Grand Slam, and it was Alcaraz. It's going to be pretty exciting on Sunday.

KELLY: OK. And what about tomorrow? Let me flip you to the women's final. As I mentioned...

ROENIGK: Yeah.

KELLY: ...Two players, neither of whom has a Wimbledon title to defend.

ROENIGK: And neither of whom has ever won a Grand Slam as well.

KELLY: Wow.

ROENIGK: And, you know, Ons Jabeur is, I think, the clear favorite going in. She is certainly the crowd favorite. She has an incredible contingent of fans from Tunisia who have followed her here. And when I say follow her, they follow her around the grounds. I saw her last night hours after the match still signing autographs and taking pictures.

KELLY: Oh, yeah.

ROENIGK: They call her the minister of happiness in Tunisia. And I do believe she is the clear favorite.

KELLY: She's the favorite, but who is she up against?

ROENIGK: So she's playing Marketa Vondrousova. Vondrousova, in 2019, at 19 years old, made the French Open final. She lost it to Ash Barty. A lot of injuries, especially to her wrist. She's had several wrist surgeries. She is the first unseeded player to make the final since Billie Jean King in 1963. So if she were to win this and win her first Grand Slam, she would also be a remarkable story.

KELLY: Alyssa Roenigk, senior writer at ESPN, speaking to us from just outside Centre Court at Wimbledon. I hope you packed your wellies for all the action this weekend. Thanks so much.

ROENIGK: Thank you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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