PARIS: Having battled via 59 encounters with Rafael Nadal over 16 years of epic contention, Novak Djokovic faces the Spanish legend’s inheritor obvious Carlos Alcaraz on the French Open in a tournament laced with era-defining attainable. Djokovic shall be taking part in a forty fifth Grand Slam semi-final on Friday; for Alcaraz, it’ll be simply his 2nd. With Roger Federer retired and Nadal nursing a hip harm till subsequent yr, 36-year-old Djokovic has the duty of retaining the legacy of the ‘Giant 3’. “It’s no doubt the largest problem for me,” stated Djokovic, chasing a 3rd French Open name and males’s file twenty third Slam which might damage the tie he these days stocks with Nadal.
Friday’s showpiece would be the first time Djokovic and Alcaraz have met at a Grand Slam and best the second one time of their careers. Alcaraz, then nonetheless 19, defeated the Serb from a suite down within the semi-finals of the Madrid Open ultimate yr, an afternoon after he had knocked out Nadal at the sooner, upper altitude courts of the Spanish capital. He predicted then that the “sky’s the restrict” and he wasn’t a long way flawed, claiming a maiden Slam name at the United States Open and turning into the youngest international primary. “He carries himself really well. Brings a large number of depth at the courtroom. Jogs my memory of anyone from his nation that performs with a left hand,” stated Djokovic of a participant who’s 16 years his junior however already boasts the aggressive DNA of Nadal.
Djokovic has 90 profession wins at Roland Garros and is taking part in his eleventh semi-final. ‘Man to overcome’ When he made his event debut in 2005, Alcaraz was once simply two however in spite of the age hole, Djokovic is eager to measure himself in opposition to the Spaniard for the primary time at a big. “If you wish to be the most efficient, you must beat the most efficient. He’s no doubt a man to overcome right here. I’m taking a look ahead to that,” added Djokovic, bidding to achieve a 7th last within the ultimate 8 majors wherein he has performed. Alcaraz fell on the quarter-finals in Paris one year in the past whilst Djokovic’s run ended within the semi-finals by the hands of Nadal.
The Spaniard then misplaced within the ultimate 16 at Wimbledon the place Djokovic was once topped champion for a 7th time. When Alacaraz swept to his maiden Slam in New York in September, the Serb was once stranded at house, banned from coming into the United States as a result of his refusal to be vaccinated. Hopes they might meet on the Australian Open, when Djokovic accumulated a tenth Melbourne name, had been dashed when Alcaraz pulled out with a leg harm. “Because the draw got here out, everybody was once anticipating this semi-final in opposition to Novak, myself as smartly. Since ultimate yr I in point of fact sought after to play once more in opposition to Novak,” stated Alcaraz.
“We’re each taking part in an ideal stage. It’s his forty fifth semi-final of a Grand Slam; that is going be my 2nd. I might say his revel in is best, however I’m no longer going to consider that.” Greek international quantity 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas has had a close-up view of each males this yr. ‘Rapid Gonzalez’ He misplaced to Djokovic within the Australian Open last and was once swept out of Roland Garros by way of Alcaraz in directly units within the quarter-final. “Djokovic has revel in; Alcaraz has legs and strikes like Rapid Gonzalez,” stated Tsitsipas.
“Alcaraz can hit massive, super-big pictures and Djokovic prefers keep an eye on over anything, almost definitely keep an eye on and precision, to use drive and simply make the opponent transfer up to imaginable.” There may be Djokovic’s well-known iron will – within the 5 tiebreaks he has performed in Paris this yr, he hasn’t dedicated a unmarried unforced error. The conflict between Djokovic and Alcaraz has overshadowed Friday’s different semi-final between 2022 runner-up Casper Ruud and Olympic champion Alexander Zverev who’s within the ultimate 4 for a 3rd successive yr.
365 days in the past, Zverev suffered season-ending ankle ligament harm in his semi-final in opposition to Nadal. “That was once probably the most tough yr of my existence,” stated the 26-year-old German. “I like taking part in tennis and the game and festival had been taken clear of me.” Zverev leads Ruud 2-1 of their head-to-head match-ups however they have got by no means met on clay. That would end up vital as international quantity 4 Ruud boasts the most efficient file at the floor since 2020 with 86 wins. – AFP