We hold this dream semi-final. It will pit world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, 20, against world No. 3 Novak Djokovic, 36. Since Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, left the tournament very early, there can be no better opposition. This match, we have been waiting for it from the beginning, since the draw that announced it. He will bring this Roland-Garros out of the sweet torpor in which he has been bathing for several days. Let's face it: there is not much since the beginning of the fortnight that particularly vibrates: more French people and a hierarchy too often respected. It purrs a little.
SIMPLY. TOO. GOOD.
Next up: Djokovic 🍿 #RolandGarros @carlosalcaraz pic.twitter.com/2LLuT0ijLR
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 6, 2023
So look forward to Friday when two of the best players in the world will look into each other's eyes. This match will mark the history of the tournament, no doubt.
There are two possible scenarios. Either Novak Djokovic wins and he goes straight for a 23rd title in a Grand Slam tournament. No one has done better, surely no one will do better. We can always debate it endlessly but under these conditions, the Serb will be able to close the debate on the best tennis player of all time.
Either Alcaraz wins and in turn, he takes an option on the final victory. If he succeeds, the world No. 1 will open a new chapter in the history of the tournament. A chapter still in Spanish colors but, for the first time since 2005 – apart from the Wawrinka parenthesis in 2015 – the winner will not be one of the three giants: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. It is said of the new Spanish prodigy that he left to reign as long as his elder in Paris. He wants it to start now.
"If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best"
During their careers, the two men crossed paths only once. It was in Madrid in the spring of 2022 and at home, the Spaniard won on clay 6-7, 7-5, 7-6. This close score probably foreshadows what will happen on Friday. "Carlos reminds me of someone from his country who plays with his left hand," smiles Novak Djokovic, referring to his eternal Iberian rival Rafael Nadal. It deserves its success, without a doubt. He works hard and he is already a very complete player who is only 20 years old. So we only played once in Madrid last year with 7-6 in the third set for him. We haven't played against each other since. »
Carlos Alcaraz was born in May 2003... the year the Serb entered the circuit. In gains in his career, the Serb accumulates € 168 million against "only" € 15 million to the Spaniard entered the great barnum in 2018. Djokovic already collects 22 Grand Slam titles while Alcaraz has won only one, the US Open in 2022. This duel will also be a clash of generations: "This match is the one that many people want to see," says Djoko. That's definitely the biggest challenge for me, you know, so far in the tournament. He's definitely a guy to beat here. I'm looking forward to it. Just like everyone else.
45th Grand Slam semi for one, 2nd for the other...
Who is the favourite? Let's dare it, no one! Djokovic has the experience, Alcaraz, the passion of youth. "Carlos is very friendly, he behaves well on and off the courts, already congratulates the elder. He brings a lot of his intensity during games. I have two days of complete rest before this semi-final and I know one thing, from experience. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Alcaraz is aware of this: "Novak is going to play his 45th Grand Slam semi-final, me only my second but you don't have to think about that, otherwise... " smiled the Spaniard.
A maxim already applied by the youngest world number 1 of the Open era. At 20 years old, Carlos Alcaraz is already the boss of the circuit. But if he wants to mark his territory and rule the savannah, he must beat the old lions. This is the first time with this semi-final that he faces one of the three legends of this sport in a Grand Slam tournament. Recall that last year, like Djokovic elsewhere, Alcaraz did not go beyond the quarterfinals. He was defeated by Alexander Zverev. It should also be remembered that he is engaged at Roland-Garros for only the third time. Two years ago, he disappeared anonymously in the third round, the year of the second coronation of... Novak Djokovic, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
"My level improves with each victory," said the Spaniard. I played this Tuesday against Stefanos, one of the best matches of my career. Everything seemed easy to me, but tried to keep it simple. It means I feel good. This bodes well before playing one of the most important fights of his young career: "Since the draw, everyone has been waiting for the match against Novak," Alcaraz thinks. Me too. I really want to play this match. For the past year, I have wanted to play against Novak again. It's amazing to write history, to play against such a player in such a setting. One thing is certain: it's going to be magical.