Alcaraz speaks when the heat has passed and revolutions have dropped. The disappointment is great but, he says, it also serves as a lesson. Djokovic is a lot of Djokovic and from now on, challenges as capital as the Serbian demand a plus. "It's time to train more and use the experience of this match so that when situations like these come, I know how to handle them better than I have," introduces the Murcian to journalists, hurt by running out of end and closing the tournament in this way, torpedoed by his own body. He refers to the ramps, to the calambrazos that began to take hold of him in the second partial. "First the hand, then the legs and in the end practically everything," specifies the still king of the circuit, betrayed again by his own physique.
It does not finish with the Alcaraz key in that sense. If the load of matches hurt him in the final stretch of last year, in this one the problems have returned to splash him despite the fact that the prudence of him and his team has multiplied in terms of preparation. Throughout these three weeks in Paris and as he had been doing in recent dates, the tennis player chose not to exercise before the matches and to dose. The day before the clash with Djokovic he did not jump on the training track and the previous day he barely played for 40 minutes, with the aim of arriving as fresh as possible and avoiding risks. Even so, the imposing ball rhythm imposed by the Balkan in the first two rounds ended up taking him ahead.
Cramps and Djokovic neutralize Alcaraz
"I entered the most tense match of the account. I didn't know how to relax, take away the tension," says the El Palmar, champion in Buenos Aires, Indian Wells, Barcelona and Madrid this season; "From the beginning I had an extra tension that in the end in a Grand Slam takes its toll, and after how intense the first sets were, even more so. Djokovic demands the maximum and squeezes you little by little; If you don't try to take that tension away from the beginning, in the end you pay for it."
OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. 🤯🇪🇸
Carlos delivers the shot of the day by @oppo#InspirationAhead #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/UgEjydUOtI
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2023
Over the past two years, Alcaraz has transformed his body. Fibrous in nature, a noodle as a teenager, he has been gaining volume and sculpting a Herculean figure that has starred on the covers of magazines on health and beauty for men, as well as campaigns for a prestigious international underwear firm. His physio, Juanjo Moreno, takes care of a body as powerful as it is delicate, exposed on a recurring basis to the electrical efforts he makes both on the tracks and daily in the academy of Villena (Alicante). "It does not measure, but it must not lose its essence," they warned from their team in February, aware that those starts and that violence when hitting the ball, a differential asset, carry an extra risk.
Clinging to 1%
"As I was telling [his team] that he was very fucked, then they told me: 'Well, if you're screwed, try to find some solution, and if you don't find it, retire.' But in the end, it was a Grand Slam semi-final and I would have eaten my head a lot if I had retired, it would have hurt a lot more," he says; "So I tried to hold on as long as possible and look for solutions in the third set, even though I knew I had it very complicated. I thought I had a 1% chance and I wanted to hold on to them as much as I could. But playing against Djokovic in those conditions, it's very difficult to match him. I'm positive, and this gives me experience."
Djokovic celebrates victory against Alcaraz.JULIEN DE ROSA (AFP)
Asked about Djokovic's visit to the locker room after delivering the second set, and if that margin of time could be the origin of the cramps, he denied it. "He will have his reasons, he did not influence me at all; It's been the tension. Every person and every player is as they are; He had to close the game and I know how difficult it is to play against someone who is not physically 100%. You can have a slump, not find a way to finish the game and cheer up, clench your fist, it helps you not to lower the intensity. I don't reproach him for anything, he did it well. And, honestly, if I had had a mental or physical or tennis slump against someone who is injured and is not playing at his level, I would also do it, because closing a match is never easy, "he answers.
Nole equals Evert's record
The Serb, meanwhile, will play his 34th final of a major and, therefore, stood out from Serena Williams and Roger Federer, both 33, and equaled the record of the American Chris Evert. "It's a privilege to be able to make history in the sport I love. The pressure is always on my shoulders, so it's not going to be any different. But it's part of my sport, my life and everything I do," he says. "This is part of the learning curve and it's part of the experience. He [Alcaraz] is only 20 years old, so he has a lot of time. He has shown a lot of maturity in recent years and it is to be respected that he has played until the last point. It was a very demanding match for both of us and the cramps are there, it's something that can happen. At the beginning of my career it happened to me too; I understand Carlos' emotions and nerves, and that those circumstances affect him," he continues.
Nole, in any case, predicts a more than bright future for Alcaraz. "I said and I repeat that he will win many times at Roland Garros in the future. I have no doubt," he predicts. Now, who follows the doors of history is him, always alert. He doesn't let his guard down. On his options in the final episode of the tournament, the Belgrade believes that experience adds up, but that it is not decisive. "It can help control your emotions or energy expenditure, but it's not going to win you a match," the Serbian said.
RUUD, TO THE THIRD...
The Norwegian Casper Ruud did not give the slightest option to the German Alexander Zverev, who heard some whistles when leaving the center for the thread embedded at the end: 6-3, 6-4 and 6-0. The Nordic, therefore, will have tomorrow the opportunity to take revenge for last year's defeat on the same stage against Rafael Nadal.
This is their third grand stage final in the last five that have been held. He did not land at his best, but as he has progressed he has raised the level. He eliminated the young Holger Rune in the quarterfinals and knocked down another major opponent yesterday. "Last year I played against Rafa (Nadal), this year against Djokovic, two of the toughest players in history, so I will go as covered, like today, trying to enjoy, smiling as much as possible," said Ruud, 24 years old and fourth best racket of the moment; "Hopefully the third one will be the one that is defeated for me."
On the other hand, this Saturday (15.00, Eurosport and DMAX) are measured by the women's title the number one, Iga Swiatek, and the Czech Karolina Muchova, debutant in a grand final.
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