Even before the first exchanged balls, the duel between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic was already listed in the history books of Roland-Garros, among the major meetings that make the salt of the Grand Slam at the Porte d’Auteuil. All tennis fans enjoyed a gala semi-final in advance, the prestige of which was due both to its actors, the two best players in the world, and to the majestic stage. Was the most hoped-for, most fantasized match of the fortnight going to turn out to be a masterpiece?
In the end, the work sketched by the Spaniard and the Serb, Friday June 9, on the Philippe-Chatrier court, looks above all like an unfinished master painting. The world number 1, victim of cramps in the right calf after two sets, could not prevent his eldest from qualifying for his 34e Grand Slam final (6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1). The outcome left the 15,000 spectators all the more hungry because until the sudden failure of the young boss of the circuit (20 years old), the match finally kept all its promises.
The first act was one-sided. With an unusually closed face, Alcaraz misses his start to the match, confusing speed with haste. In windy conditions which usually work for him, he accumulates bad choices – including on drop shots, his cute sin – and the unforced errors that go with it. A treat for this Djokovic fox, who is at the rendezvous of his 45e Grand Slam semi-final: the world number 3 optimizes angles and imposes tactical variations with accuracy.
A stroke of genius that defies the laws of gravity
But the prodigy of El Palmar (Murcia) shows from the beginning of the second act what wood he is made of. At 1-1, on his service, the protege of Juan Carlos Ferrero signs an anthology shot, one of the most beautiful of this edition. He rushes on a cushioning deposited by the Serb, then sprints towards the back of the court by unleashing a desperate forehand passing, back to the court, which comes to touch the line.
Carlos Alcaraz scored one of the points of the tournament! Madness this shot. 😱🔥 #RolandGarros #RolandGarros2023 #Alcaraz https://t.co/WJdZGOsPMB
Even Djokovic bows to this opponent who defies the laws of gravity, whose stroke of genius recalls a “squash-style” throw-in performed in 2006 by a certain Roger Federer in this same setting against Argentinian David Nalbandian. Freed, the Spaniard has just found his smile and his overpowered forehand – flashed at 184 km / h against Stefanos Tsitsipas, in a quarter-final that caused a stir on and off the court. The two players go blow for blow, the world number 3 saves the first four break points, but ends up physically folding (5-7). One sleeve everywhere.
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