Wimbledon’s first Grand Slam Final featured a quartet of four-time major champions

Carlos Alcaraz reaches US Open quarterfinal with late-night win against Marin Cilic

On Tuesday, a record 24,500 people crowded into Arthur Ashe Stadium to cheer on a new era in tennis. For the first time, a Grand Slam singles final featured a quartet of four-time major champions. For the first time ever, none of the four were seeded in the draw.

But perhaps more important, none of the four played in their semifinal—not Radek Stepanek, the third-seeded Czech who, after two unforced errors in his opening service game, dropped Cilic in the third, and not the American veteran who lost five games to three before recovering to beat Federer on Sunday.

There is no doubt that Cilic, the seven-time major champion, is a deserving champion for the tournament and the fans. He overcame a tough stretch. But he also had to rise to the challenge of one of the greatest players of all time.

Cilic’s record against Stepanek is 3-1, 3-3.

“I respect his game, but I lost to him in the final in 2010,” Stepanek said Tuesday after learning Cilic had defeated him in the semifinals. “I feel like I was better today.”

The new era begins at 7 p.m.

A year ago, in the first grand slam final to be played to nearly sold-out crowds, the four men on center court—Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka—were seeded Nos. 1-4 in the draw. They were seeded, as usual, in the semifinals.

In the first round, they faced off against each other, in the first-ever meeting between Djokovic and Wawrinka, the top-seeded Swiss left-hander from the 2014 U.S. Open.

Djokovic won the match in five sets. The second-seeded Djokovic had looked like the likely winner before Wawrinka shocked him in the third set and left the rest of the field breathless from the shock.

After his loss to Wawrinka, Djokovic had to endure a third straight first-round loss at Wimbledon.

The men on Tuesday were seeded Nos. 14-16 in the draw.

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