Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat a cramping Carlos Alcaraz 6-2, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to become the second-oldest men’s finalist in the history of the French Open and get closer to a record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title.
The 36-year-old Djokovic has won Roland Garros twice. If he beats Casper Ruud or Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final, he will break the record he shares with Rafael Nadal for the most men’s Grand Slam wins.
“First of all, I have to say bad luck to Carlos, because the last thing you want in the final stages of a Grand Slam is cramps or other physical problems,” Djokovic said Thursday after winning the match.
“I feel sorry for him, and I hope he gets better.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2023
Alcaraz’s physical problems took away the tension as he bravely fought to keep going. The first two sets were very exciting, with Djokovic winning the first set and Alcaraz tying it up in the second.
“Toward the end of the second set, he played better than anyone else. I had to be bold to get the ball early, or else he would have been the one to be aggressive. He is very fast and active, so I had to meet him and do even better, which was very tiring.
But the 20-year-old Spaniard stopped playing, clutching his right calf, when Djokovic held serve at 1-1 in the third set. This gave his opponent the next game instead of forcing him to fight through to the changeover.
As Djokovic easily won the remaining of the set, Alcaraz was a pale imitation of the unflappable, all-action player who had started the match.
After a toilet break, he returned for the fourth set looking a little more mobile, but any residual resistance from Alcaraz vanished after Djokovic saved a break point in the first game.
Djokovic can surpass Nadal as the tournament’s oldest victor and reclaim the top spot from Alcaraz if he wins on Sunday.
Due to a hip ailment, Nadal was unable to compete in his favorite tournament this year.