The eagerly anticipated semi final between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will happen at the French Open on Friday, with the pair facing off for just the second time in their careers. Alcaraz won a third set tiebreak in their only previous meeting in Madrid, beating the Serbian on his way to the title. Alcaraz retains the World No.1 spot if he wins this match while Djokovic will regain it if he wins the title.
DJOKOVIC VS ALCARAZ ROLAND GARROS PREDICTION:
Djokovic’s four set win was reminiscent of many his big slam wins in recent times – not unstoppable throughout but delivering at the key moments when it really matters. He came from a set down to beat Karen Khachanov 4-6 7-6 6-2 6-4, with the end of the second set and start of the third seeing him really turn the tide of the match. He did not earn a single break point in the first two sets but following his 7-0 tiebreak victory, he managed to break to open the third set. “I was struggling to find my rhythm. I made a lot of unforced errors and came into the match quite slow, quite sluggish. But I played the perfect [second-set] tie-break, really, and from that moment I played a couple of levels higher than I did at the beginning.” he said after.
Alcaraz was superb in his victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, dominating the matchup against the Greek once more. He exposed the backhand of his opponent throughout the 6-2 6-1 7-6 win, a scoreline that flatters Tsitsipas due to a late match collapse from Alcaraz that was halted just in time. “I lost my focus a little bit at the end of the third set,” Alcaraz said. “I had a couple of match points on the return, [and then] serving for the match. He started to play, I would say, better. But of course I lost my focus a little bit.
While Alcaraz did win the only meeting so far, playing Djokovic in BO5 even at this stage of his career is a whole different matter. Djokovic is able to ramp up his level when it really matters and will not be at a huge disadvantage in this matchup like Tsitsipas was. Serving well will be the first key for Djokovic, who then has the game to pin back Alcaraz without offering up freebies on the backhand side. He is going to have to be more aggressive though, something that will suit him to some extent but with a brick wall on the other side – he will have to avoid getting frustrated. While Alcaraz’s level dipped as his quarter final went on, Djokovic’s rose and that monster mentality could make the difference. The 22 time slam champion is coming into this one as the underdog and will have something to prove against the man who many are seeing as his and Rafael Nadal’s natural successor.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in five sets