Novak Djokovic cheered cautiously and patted the deeply disappointed Carlos Alcaraz on the shoulder. After a big tennis drama about the 20-year-old Spaniard, the 36-year-old Serb reached the final of the French Open for the seventh time. Djokovic prevailed on Friday against the badly battered world number one 6: 3, 5: 7, 6: 1, 6: 1 and can hope for the third title at the clay court classic in Paris. Alcaraz was apparently plagued by cramps and could hardly move from the beginning of the third round.
Third in the world rankings Djokovic only needs one win for the 23rd triumph in a Grand Slam tournament, with which he would secure the sole record ahead of Rafael Nadal. Djokovic meets Alexander Zverev or the Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final of the clay court classic in Paris this Sunday. The second semi-final followed.
Watched by stars like boxing legend Mike Tyson and actor Michael Keaton, spectators witnessed a major sporting tragedy on the hottest day of the tournament. At the beginning of the third set, Alcaraz suddenly couldn’t perform anymore. He hobbled helplessly and desperately across the square on one leg. Since no treatment was planned at the time, the 20-year-old voluntarily gave up a game and had the doctor come. The spectators booed passionately about Djokovic automatically winning the game – up to this point it had been a high-class, spectacular semi-final with plenty of highlights.
Second oldest finalist in the history of the tournament
Alcaraz could hardly walk because of his complaints, the third set was gone. Another treatment brought little improvement: the US Open winner didn’t want to give up at all, fought with a big heart, but had lost all rhythm and mobility. With the score at 0: 5, Alcaraz won another game in the fourth set, but Djokovic was able to celebrate less than an hour after the Spaniard’s injury began.
For the second oldest finalist in the history of the French Open, it is already the 34th final in a Grand Slam. Should he also prevail on Sunday, he would become the first male pro to win each of the big four tournaments three times.
Applause from Djokovic
At the beginning of the game, Alcaraz was under pressure and nervous. After every point gained, the Spaniard cheered himself on and encouraged himself. But with his strong returns, Djokovic immediately put his opponent under pressure and dominated the initial phase. Alcaraz complained that he had to involve his opponent in longer rallies. And the game got tighter. Djokovic’s service game to 5: 2 lasted more than 14 minutes, in which he fended off three break balls. After 56 minutes, Djokovic secured the first round.
Both had only given up one round each in the course of the tournament, Alcaraz was on the pitch three and a half hours less. And until his problems, the 20-year-old took advantage of this. With a score of 1: 1, he scored the point of the tournament so far: sliding backwards, Alcaraz hit an incredible passing ball past his left leg – the spectators in the stands also pulled out their cell phones to study the scene again. Djokovic also applauded appreciatively with his racket.
When the score was 3: 4, Djokovic had his right forearm, which apparently hurt, treated for a long time. But after Alcaraz secured the second set, the Spaniard was shocked a little later – and then quickly eliminated.