They have Paris and the fans what they wanted, the duel they dreamed of. Poster and neon lights in the Bois de Boulogne, where everyone rubs their hands before the one that is coming. Here it is, this Friday: Carlos Alcaraz against Novak Djokovic, the spécialité of the house. The best dish possible. It was guessed after the draw the great collision and both have been fulfilling to the letter, firm both and determined to meet. No fear. At stake, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The immensity of the old guard against the overwhelming centennial ecstasy of the number one, who on the way to the next duel marks a monologue, another beating, a recital that buries the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-2, 6-1 and 7-6 (5), after 2h 12m) and guides him to his first semifinal at Roland Garros, the second in a major. And the question is: Is there anyone capable of stopping the whirlwind of El Palmar? Perhaps it can be the old Nole, exposed to his 36 springs to a heads or tails that could dictate sentence: tennis writes a new page.
The heading is the name of Alcaraz, the boy who does everything well and to whom everyone looks. They praise him from the NBA, Real Madrid visit him in Paris, the rivals in his path fall apart and praise rains down on him everywhere, the sport aware that he is facing a special talent, one of those phenomena touched by the wand. He is 20 years old and this season he faced a higher exam, that of being the tennis player to beat; Reached the top and with the target on his back, the Murcian shines and shines, processes and manages with a veteran's hand the situation that so many others would have already devoured; Not him, the tennis player who competes as if he were in the schoolyard, permanent smile and enjoyment by flag. He says that success is about that, not believing it too much and working day and night, but that deep down all this is a simple game and above all you have to have fun. Wow, if it applies. Before Tsitsipas, a binge, another shake. The Greek, defeated from the moment he sets foot in the sand, trembles to his toes.
Djokovic and his aura await Alcaraz
Perhaps the Athenian should dive into the past and correct. Praise and more praise towards the Spaniard, excessive, so many compliments in recent times – "I have not seen anyone hit the ball so hard", "it is the biggest challenge for anyone", "he could be the next Nadal ..."– that, somehow, has already given him the first game. Take the first step towards this Parisian abyss without even having jumped on the track. He is a deflated, unrecognizable, depressed tennis player. It folds without competing. Nothing to do with the distance of the great rivalries, loaded with adrenaline, fire and sparks, however much they may be disguised in good ways. There is no crumb here. Five pulses, five wiggles and a sidereal distance between one and the other. One day Tsitsipas threatened not so long ago to get on the train of greatness and flirt with the strongest, but by accumulating blows he seems to have given up. Right now, the Greek (24 years old) is a spectral player, unable to overcome the current of melancholy that drags him.
It was on the Chatrier, precisely, that his mental shipwreck began. It was two years ago, with Djokovic in front of him. Two sets up, comeback of the Serb and fall into a pit that seems to have no end. It still hurts. He hasn't gotten over it. He met again with the Balkan in the Australian final of this course and yielded without protest, without rebellion. Obedient. It continued to fall. Another wound. The players tell behind the scenes that there is no worse feeling on a court than the condescension of the stands, so those spirits when almost everything is lost torment him. It is not predilection; Quite simply, the public, who have left the rooms at the entrance, want more. But Alcaraz squeezes and squeezes, destroys the opponent's backhand – the third consecutive he faces in the tournament, after those of Shapovalov and Musetti – and continues to tell the world that there he is, imperial, unstoppable and meteoric. Carlitos, registered trademark. "He has everything, he can decide the future of our sport," repeats these days the Swedish Mats Wilander, who knows something about history.
Juan Carlos Ferrero also controls this, another who broke molds as a child, another who kissed the top of the circuit and another who, in addition, to round off, conquered the great Parisian temple 20 years ago, when in a hamlet of Murcia a certain Alcaraz was born; jet hair, prominent teeth, noodle body and enormous talent. The nervous technician stirs because his boy has a hard time closing. There is no slip at all. There is no cruelty, but Alcaraz finishes, practically round the performance. "I played one of the best matches of my career, I felt I could do whatever I wanted with the ball," says the Spaniard at the foot of the court. "I keep thinking about that match," he says of Djokovic. "Semis? Let's do it!", he signs. "Let's do it." Well, that's it, Carlitos.
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