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Despite Alcaraz’s Injury, Djokovic Advances to his 7th French Open Final

Alcaraz Djokovic scaled 1

Friday’s exciting and contentious events led to Novak Djokovic reaching his seventh French Open final when world number one Carlos Alcaraz‘s challenge was thwarted by severe cramps.

The 36-year-old Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the championship round, where he will compete for his third Roland Garros title and a record-breaking 23rd men’s Grand Slam victory.

The drama on Friday began immediately after Djokovic tied the third set at one all, the first two sets having been split, but with Alcaraz appearing to be in control in the oppressive 33 degree heat of Paris.

Alcaraz, who is 16 years younger than Djokovic, came up holding his right calf.

Because he received medication on the court before the scheduled change of ends and was unable to get a medical timeout for cramps, he lost his next service game.

Djokovic, who was competing in his 45th Grand Slam semi-final, won the following five games to take a two sets to one lead as the jeers and boos showered down.

Alcaraz had to leave the court for a five-minute restroom break, but because of his physical limitations, Djokovic was able to easily cruise into his 34th Grand Slam final after winning 10 of the final 11 games of the semi-final.

“Unfortunately for Carlos, cramping is the last thing you need. I’m sorry for him, and I’m hoping he gets well quickly and returns,” remarked Djokovic.

Respect him for battling to the bitter end. He is extremely young and will win this many times, I informed him at the net.

“He was the better player in the second set,” he continued. I was aware that in order to better and equal his intensity, I needed to be more aggressive.

For a spot in Sunday’s championship match, where he gets the chance to claim the title of the first player to win all four Slam championships at least three times, Djokovic will compete against either 2022 runner-up Casper Ruud or Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic made light of the age difference by breaking for a 3-1 lead, forcing Alcaraz out of position, and capping off a rally with a calm backhand in only their second career encounter and first in a Grand Slam.

In the seventh game, Alcaraz lost three break points as his flamboyant all-court style ran smack against Djokovic’s legendary defensive wall.

Treating the wrist


Despite Alcaraz's Injury, Djokovic Advances to his 7th French Open Final


In a back-and-forth final game of the opening set, Alcaraz saved a set point and Djokovic saved a break point before the Serbian took the lead when the Spaniard missed a service return.

At 3-4 in the second set, Djokovic needed a medical break for his right wrist, and Alcaraz pounced, finally saving a break point at the sixth attempt for a 5-3 advantage.

The 20-year-old Spaniard served up his worst game of the match at the wrong time, and Djokovic promptly retaliated by recovering the break with a booming backhand down the line.

A errant forehand that sailed long in the 12th game allowed Alcaraz to tie the match and go to the semi-finals, despite the two-time winner Djokovic saving three set points in the 10th game.

Alcaraz’s afternoon fell apart after that.

“I had to play tough. Because he was going to be the aggressive one if I didn’t take the ball early, I had to do that. He is the kind of player that enjoys playing that way with a lot of force, said Djokovic, the Paris champion in 2016 and 2021.

“Extremely proud”

“I had to do the same, but even better. The two sets were quite taxing, and I am so thrilled to have advanced to another final.

The other semi-final on Friday between Ruud, who finished second to Rafael Nadal in 2022, and Olympic champion Zverev, who is in the final four for the third consecutive year, was overshadowed by the match between Djokovic and Alcaraz.

In his semi-final matchup with Nadal one year ago, Zverev damaged ankle ligaments that required surgery and ended his season.

The German, who was 26 years old, claimed that year had been the hardest of his life.

“I adore playing tennis, but I was denied the opportunity to compete. But now that I’ve been given another chance, I’m hoping to seize it.

Although Zverev has a 2-1 advantage in their head-to-head meetings, they have never faced off on clay.

That might be crucial because Ruud, the fourth-ranked player in the world, has the greatest record on the surface since 2020 with 86 wins.


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