• Opinion Alcaraz travels at a different speed

The only time Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic met was last year in the semifinals of the Madrid Masters. A day after beating Rafael Nadal in the quarters, the Spaniard defeated Nole 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5), to become the youngest player to beat both in the same tournament.

The protagonists of the semifinal have only coincided this year in a draw before Roland Garros. It was in the Masters 1000 of Rome, where Djokovic fell in the eighth against Lorenzo Musetti and Alcaraz said goodbye in the third round to Fabian Marozsan, in one of the only three defeats they have suffered this season, compared to their 35 triumphs.

The injury that prevented the tennis player from El Palmar from playing the Australian Open, Nole's absences from the American hard court tournaments due to his refusal to be vaccinated against covid and the different calendar chosen by both in the rest of the clay tournaments prior to Paris prevented his confluence in other draws.

From the beginning of the tournament, when the draw paired them on the same side of the key and it was known that they could be measured in the semifinals, the hypothesis of that crossing caught on with the maximum interest among all the fans, as highlighted by Alcaraz himself after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals. Both have always played on the same days. Both have dropped just one set on the way to the penultimate round. Alcaraz lost it to Taro Daniel, 112th, in the second round, and Djokovic in the quarters, to Karen Khachanov, 14th.

New York, London and Melbourne

The last three champions in Grand Slam tournaments are measured. The Serbian won his sixth Wimbledon in 2022 and at the beginning of this year his tenth Australian Open, he could not play in New York, because he was not vaccinated against covid. There Alcaraz got his only major to date, to become, in addition, the youngest tennis player who managed to catch the number 1.

That cherished tag is also disputed in today's match. If Alcaraz wins, he will stay at the top. If he loses, Belgrade will need to take the title to overtake him in the rankings. Both have recently alternated at the top of the ladder. Djokovic regained the No. 1 spot with his win in Melbourne earlier in the season. Alcaraz rescued him again by winning in Indian Wells, only to give him up the following week with his loss in the Miami semifinals to Jannik Sinner. The Spaniard took to the attic again on May 22, after the tournament in Rome.

Djokovic hasn't lost at a major since falling to Nadal in the quarterfinals of this same tournament in 2022. He has 19 consecutive victories, those of his titles in Wimbledon and Australia, in addition to the previous five in this edition of the tournament. It will be his twelfth semi-final in Paris, forty-fifth in a tournament of this category. For Alcaraz it is the second, as he recalled when talking about the match. The Serb, champion in 2016 and 2021, is the second player with the most matches won at Roland Garros, 90, only surpassed by Nadal's 112. Alcaraz has played it three times: he fell in the third round in 2021, to Jan-Lennard Sruff, and in the quarterfinals last year, to Alexander Zverev.

  • tennis
  • Carlos Alcaraz
  • Novak Djokovic
  • Rafa Nadal
  • Covid 19

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