Ruthless Alcaraz books Djokovic semi

 - Courtney Walsh

Spaniard speeds past Tsitsipas to reach final four at Roland-Garros for the first time

Carlos Alcaraz, quarts de finale, Roland-Garros 2023©Julien Crosnier / FFT

Carlos Alcaraz has confirmed an appointment against Novak Djokovic on Friday at Roland-Garros in what shapes as one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches in years.

The world No.1 delivered a phenomenal performance to reach his first semi-final in Paris by blitzing two-time Grand Slam finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(5) on Tuesday night. 

The ease with which Alcaraz dominated the No.5 seed, who was the runner-up at Roland-Garros in 2021, in the first two sets was astonishing.

His clash against Djokovic will be their second overall and first at a major. It pits a young champion versus a legend.

The eyes of the tennis world and beyond will be on Roland-Garros for the semi-final.

Story of the match

Shortly before the quarter-final, the camera was fixated on the combatants as they awaited their introduction to step onto Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Tsitsipas fiddled with his bag. Alcaraz, positioned to his left, was a bundle of energy. 

He bounced from one leg to the other, mimed groundstrokes and looked ready to launch. 

The contrast proved a truism of what was to unfold as the 20-year-old played with the haste of a man with a reservation booked for central Paris well before midnight.

Having fallen in all four previous meetings against the No.1 seed, including a final in Barcelona in April, the No.5 ranked Tsitsipas needed to start well. And he did.

In a fine flourish that promised more than eventuated, the Athens native fired three aces in the opening service game. But his challenge was defused immediately.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland-Garros 2023, quarter-finals© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Alcaraz asserted his authority when breaking serve with a forehand winner in the third game. From there, he put his foot on the accelerator. 

Be it at the baseline or the net, when briefly on the back foot and more frequently on the offensive, it was a rare moment where Alcaraz was troubled.

Understandably, the Greek was flustered.

Trailing 1-5 and facing three set points on his serve in the second set, the No.5 seed turned to his support box including his father Apostolos Tsitsipas for a solution. For anything at all.

But the debate ran over-time and he was issued with a time violation. Tsitsipas immediately double-faulted. Another set, and effectively the match, was gone. 

It was indicative of his night, despite the spirit he showed coming from a 2-5 deficit and saving five match points in a third set that finished in a tiebreaker. 

Key stats

The percentage of points won by the best players in the world sits at about 55 per cent. 

In his earlier victory over Karen Khachanov on Friday, Djokovic won 146 of the 264 points played, which equates to that percentage and is indicative of a hard-fought victory.

The differential delivered by Alcaraz against a player as accomplished as Tsitsipas was mind-boggling, particularly in the first two sets in which he won 57 points of the 86 played.

Alcaraz improves to 35-3 win-loss this season (25-2 on clay).

What the winner said

On playing Djokovic: “This match, it is one everyone wants to watch. I would say it will be a really good match to play and to watch as well. I really want to play this match well.

“I always say that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Novak Djokovic right now is one of the best players in the world. 

“It is going to be a really tough match for me but I am really looking forward to playing that match.”