Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic prevail to set up semifinal showdown

Field Level Media
07 Jun 2023, 08:55 GMT+10

The semifinal showdown between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic is a full-go after both standouts won their French Open quarterfinal matchups on Tuesday in Paris.

The top-seeded Alcaraz swept fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (5) in his match at Roland Garros, while third-seeded Djokovic recovered from a set down to post a 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-4 victory over 11th-seeded Karen Khachanov.

It will be just the second meeting between the 20-year-old Alcaraz and 36-year-old Djokovic. Alcaraz prevailed in the first in three sets in the semifinals in Madrid in May 2022.

"This match is one everyone wanted to watch," Alcaraz said of the matchup with Djokovic. "I would say it's going to be a really good match to play and to watch as well. I really wanted to play this match as well. I always say that if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

"Novak Djokovic right now is one of the best players in the world, so it's going to be a really tough challenge for me. But I'm really looking forward to that match, playing such a great level."

Alcaraz will retain his No. 1 world ranking by beating Djokovic no matter how he fares in the championship match. Djokovic can regain the No. 1 spot by winning the title, which would be a record 23rd Grand Slam crown.

Alcaraz had 36 winners and 20 unforced errors while knocking off Tsitsipas. The Spaniard converted 6 of 12 break points while winning in two hours, 12 minutes.

Alcaraz rolled through the first two sets before Tsitsipas put up a fight in the third set and forced a tiebreak before falling short. The Greek had 21 winners but was off the mark with 30 unforced errors.

"He started to play, I would say, better," Alcaraz said of Tsitsipas. "But of course I lost my focus a little bit.

"I was in trouble. I'm really happy to overcome that problem, still playing a great level, believing in myself, believing that I was going to win the third set. But of course it was really tough at the end of the match."

Djokovic was on the court for three hours, 38 minutes as he had to overcome the first-set loss.

He came close to losing the second set, too, before winning all seven points of the tiebreak to even the match. Djokovic controlled the final two sets.

"The energy of the court shifted to my side," Djokovic said. "I felt the momentum. I started releasing and relaxing through my shots a bit more and going for it more, with more confidence. And he backed up a bit."

Overall, the Serbian had edges in aces (11-7) and winners (57-38) and saved 8 of 10 break points. Djokovic committed 42 unforced errors and his Russian opponent made 44.

"It was a big fight," Djokovic said. "It always is, I have a lot of respect for Karen. He's a great fighter, a great player, and I wish him all the best for the rest of the year."

--Field Level Media

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