Such is the turn that Carlos Alcaraz has given to the circuit that players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, 25 years old, double Grand Slam finalist, number five in the world and winner of nine ATP titles, seem to begin to be part of the past, at least as far as the highest level conquests are concerned. The Spaniard has accelerated the course of events at an unbearable speed for the rest of the competitors and even those best placed to take over from the so-called Big Three begin to feel as if their time had already been left behind. Alcaraz beat Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (5), in two hours and 12 minutes, and will play his first Roland Garros semifinals against Novak Djokovic on Friday.
It was precisely Tsitsipas, in the third round of the US Open, the first to perceive in his own flesh what was to come. That victory of the current world number 1 suggested the beginning of a new era that would take little time to materialize. A year later, Alcaraz would win his first major in New York and would become the youngest player to climb to the top of the ranking.
That sidereal speed in the evolution of tennis is indicated by the Spaniard in each match. He barely grants respite to his opponents, who go with water up to their necks from the moment the ball is set in motion. Tsidipas soon felt it. after an excellent start to the service. Cornered in the backhand zone, with the added difficulty of executing the blow to one hand, he saw Alcaraz pass as an explosive device impossible to defuse. Nor did it serve him to approach the network, a logical alternative if he wanted to have any option in the party.
Without ceasing to surrender to the Murcia, the public that filled the Philippe-Chatrier, eager for there to be more dispute than suggested by a new exhibition of Alcaraz, dispensed all its affection to Tsitsipas. Such was the sample of blows of the tennis player from El Palmar that the match threatened to end too soon. The shouts of "Stefanos, Stefanos, Stefanos!" tried to push the Greek in the titanic task of facing the best player of the moment, the young man with all the weapons to mark an era. The situation generated anxiety in Tsitsipas, disengaged, without solutions. The first set went like a sigh and the second ran the same fate, closed with a double fault from the great victim of the night.
While Djokovic needed three hours and 38 minutes to get rid in four sets of Karen Khachanov, eleventh in the ranking, Alcaraz asked for an appointment with the Balkan only with some difficulty to close the night. The Spaniard's fifth win against Tsitsipas in as many matches had a delay that was not counted. Perhaps amazed by the sufficiency with which he handled the match, the champion this year in Indian Wells, Madrid, Barcelona and Buenos Aires lightened the pace after dominating 5-2 in the third set and was involved in a tiebreaker, before culminating his performance in the sixth match point and thus achieving his thirty-fifth victory of 2023, year in which he has only conceded three defeats. Djokovic, who lost to him in the semifinals of last year's Madrid Masters in their only meeting to date, knows that an extraordinarily difficult undertaking awaits him. If beating Rafael Nadal on Parisian soil was, in his own words, one of the greatest challenges for an athlete, stopping Carlos Alcaraz right now requires a comparable heroism.
- Carlos Alcaraz
- Novak Djokovic
- Rafa Nadal
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