Paris and the fans have what they wanted, the duel they dreamed of. Billboard and neon lights in the Bois de Boulogne, where everyone rubs their hands in anticipation of what is coming. Here it is, this Friday: Carlos Alcaraz against Novak Djokovic, the specialty from the house The best dish possible. The great collision was guessed after the draw and both have been complying to the letter, both firm and determined to meet. Without fear. At stake, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The immensity of the old guard against the overwhelming ecstasy centennial from number one, who on the way to the next duel marks a monologue, another beating, a recital that buries the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-2, 6-1 and 7-6 (5), after 2h 12m) and guides him towards his first semifinal at Roland Garros, the second in a big one. And the question is: Is there anyone capable of stopping the whirlwind of El Palmar? Perhaps it could be the old Nole, exposed to his 36 years to a toss-up that could pass sentence: tennis writes a new page.
The heading is the name of Alcaraz, the boy who does everything well and whom everyone looks at. They praise him from the NBA, Real Madrid visits him in Paris, rivals fall apart in his path and praise rains down on him from all sides, the sport aware that it is facing a special talent, one of those phenomena touched by the wand. He is 20 years old and this season he faced a higher test, that of being the tennis player to beat; Having reached the top and with the target on his back, the Murcian man shines and shines, processing and managing with the hand of a veteran the situation that would have already devoured so many others; not him, the tennis player who competes as if he were in the schoolyard, a permanent smile and enjoyment as the flag. He says that success comes from that, from not believing it too much and from working day and night, but basically all this is just a game and above all you have to have fun. Well if it applies. Before Tsitsipas, a binge, another shaking. The Greek, defeated from the moment he sets foot in the sand, even his toes tremble.
Perhaps the Athenian should dive into the past and correct. Praise and more praise for the Spaniard, excessive, so many compliments in recent times – “I have not seen anyone hit the ball so hard”, “it is the greatest challenge for anyone”, “it could be the next Nadal…” – that In a way, he has already given him the first game. He takes the first step towards this Parisian abyss without even having jumped on the track. He is a deflated, unrecognizable, depressed tennis player. He folds without competing. Nothing to do with the distance of the great rivalries, charged with adrenaline, fire and sparks, no matter how much they may be disguised in good ways. There is no crumb here. Five pulses, five wiggles and a sidereal distance between one and the other. One day Tsitsipas threatened, not so long ago, with getting on the train of greatness and flirting with the strongest, but based on accumulating blows he seems to have given up. Right now, the Hellene (24 years old) is a spectral player, unable to overcome the current of melancholy that drags him.
It was at Chatrier, precisely, where his mental shipwreck began. It was two years ago, with Djokovic in front. Two sets up, the Serbian came back and fell into a pit that seems endless. It still hurts. He’s not over it. He ran into the Balkan again in the Australian final of this course and gave in without protest, without rebellion. Obedient. He continued to fall. Another wound. The players tell behind the scenes that there is no worse feeling on a court than that of the condescension of the stands, so that spirit when he is almost all lost torment him. It is not predilection; simply, the public, which has left the rooms at the entrance, wants more. But Alcaraz presses and presses, destroys the opponent’s backhand – the third consecutive he has faced in the tournament, after those of Shapovalov and Musetti – and continues to tell the world that there he is, imperial, unstoppable and meteoric. Carlitos, registered trademark. “He has everything, he can decide the future of our sport”, repeats these days the Swedish Mats Wilander, who knows something about history.
Juan Carlos Ferrero also controls this, another who broke the mold as a child, another who kissed the top of the circuit and another who, in addition, to round off, conquered the great Parisian temple 20 years ago, when in a district of Murcia a certain Alcaraz; jet black hair, prominent teeth, noodle body and enormous talent. The nervous technician stirs because his boy has a little trouble closing. There is no slip. There is no cruelty, but Alcaraz finishes off, the performance practically round. “I played one of the best games of my career, I felt that I could do whatever I wanted with the ball”, says the Spaniard at the foot of the court. “I can’t stop thinking about that match,” he was sincere, pointing to Djokovic. “semis? Let’s do it!“, signature. “Let’s do it.” Well that, Carlos.