Roland-Garros: Djokovic in the final after his victory against Alcaraz, physically diminished
Novak Djokovic qualified Friday for the final of Roland Garros, where he will look to become the first man with 23 Grand Slam titles, by emerging victorious from the shock against world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, physically diminished from the third set of their semifinal.
Tennis player Novak Djokovic during his semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz at Roland Garros on June 9, 2023. © Pierre René-Worms / RFI
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Novak Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in 3h23 min. Visibly suffering from cramps, the 20-year-old Spaniard suddenly lost his footing at the beginning of the third set, after a second set of great intensity. In Sunday's final, the 36-year-old Serb will face world No. 4 Casper Ruud, outgoing finalist, or Germany's Alexander Zverev, former world No. 2 now 27th, opposed in the aftermath. The shock anticipated from the draw will not have finally kept all its promises.
While at the end of the second set, Novak Djokovic seemed physically affected and left Centre Court after Carlos Alcaraz's equalizer at one set everywhere, it was the young Spaniard who suddenly cracked in the second game of the third set, visibly victim of cramps in the thighs. The two players had been fighting each other for about two and a half hours, and the end of the second set had been particularly intense. Massed immediately, without waiting for the change of side, Carlos Alcaraz received a penalty game. Juan Carlos Ferrero's protégé then went all the way in the game, but scored only one game until the end of the game.
Novak Djokovic will make history on Sunday: he will look to become the first man to win a 23rd Grand Slam title. One more than Rafael Nadal, whom he had equaled after his coronation at the Australian Open last January. The absolute record, men and women combined, is held by Australian Margaret Court, with 24 trophies won in the 1960s and 70s. Serena Williams has 23 to her name. If he wins on Sunday, Novak Djokovic will reinstall himself on the throne of world tennis at the expense of Carlos Alcaraz.
In the event of a title, he will also become the first player to win at least three times in each of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf did it on the women's side. Novak Djokovic would also be the oldest French Open winner, just ahead of Nadal. This will be his seventh final on the Parisian clay, his 34th in a Grand Slam tournament.
The tournament shot
Before this brutal twist in the third set, Novak Djokovic had made the best start in this clash between representative of the "Big3" and new winning face of world tennis. Obviously tense, Carlos Alcaraz, for once, made his young age. Conversely, the Serb, in old briscard, knew how to start foot on the floor and take the Murcian by the throat, having answers to everything.
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz after losing to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros on June 9, 2023. © Pierre René-Worms / RFI
More liberated over the course of the second set, Carlos Alcaraz ended up equalizing at one set everywhere, breaking white Djokovic at 6-5. But at what cost... Before that, he had served in vain for the second set win at 5-3 and had seen three set balls fly away in a row in the next game.
Even eliminated, "Carlitos" will probably keep to his credit the most beautiful point of the tournament, this unthinkable squash shot that turned into a winning pass at the beginning of the second set, after putting a cushioned Djokovic and sprinting to the back of the court, back to the net.
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