Stress. A lot of stress. This is how Carlos Alcaraz saw his body freeze this Friday in the semifinals at Roland-Garros against Novak Djokovic (6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1). After two first sets wearing physically and mentally, the Spaniard cracked. The right hand then the left leg and then the whole body of the young man of 20 years. Nothing lasted but the world number one absolutely did not want to give up. He explained himself at a press conference, a little more than an hour after his defeat.
What happened and how do you explain it?
CARLOS ALCARAZ. I started having cramps at the beginning of the third set. It was getting too hard for me to move. I let it pass to see. But, in the 4th set, it was just as hard. My whole body wasn't moving. I started this meeting very nervously. I was way too nervous. There was a huge tension in this match. In the first set, the second... Everything was intense. There were rallies, sprints, a lot of things. But I explain these cramps by the general tension in the first two sets.
Did playing against Novak Djokovic increase this tension?
Probably. This is Novak, a sports legend. If someone says they are not stressed or nervous before confronting them, they are lying. Next time, I hope to be different. But I'll be nervous, that's for sure. Today, everything was fine. I was as usual. A little more nervous maybe but nothing extraordinary. I really went into the game too nervously. I didn't know how to calm down, take that tension off my mind.
Is this the most tense match of your young career?
Probably, yes. It was very hard for me. I had never felt anything like this. I've experienced cramps before, but never like this. I can give the example of the match against Tsitsipas at the US Open (Editor's note: five sets, concluded in the decisive game). But it was not of this magnitude.
Why didn't you give up?
I would have disappointed myself if I gave up. It would have been too hard for me. Even more than this defeat. In the 4th set, I thought I had a 1% chance of coming back. It was hard... I took two points and nothing more (laughs). No one told me to give up in my cubicle. I'm in the semi-finals, I didn't want to. It would have been worse for me.
What will you learn from this experience?
It hurts to leave like that in a semi-final. But I'm a positive boy, I've always said that. It will serve me as experience, it's still a semi-final against Novak. Despite what happened, I tried. I will see what to improve, what to do better. I don't leave as touched as we think (smiles). No one wants to lose. We are all disappointed, me and my loved ones. But we have to keep things positive. The tension and the demands of the match cost me dearly. I have to train more, gain more experience to manage things better.