The two huge favorites of the fortnight challenge each other on Friday for a place in the final of the Parisian Grand Slam.
A final before the hour. Expected from the draw for this 2023 edition, the semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will take place on Friday June 9 on the Philippe-Chatrier court. In the absence of the host, Rafael Nadal, the Serb and the Spaniard intend to take advantage of their second career duel to reach the Roland-Garros final. They are seeking, respectively, a 23rd crown, which would be a Grand Slam record, or a first coronation on Parisian clay. “It’s the game everyone wanted to see, and I wanted to play it because to be the best, you have to beat the best”says Alcaraz. “He’s definitely the man to beat, so I can’t wait to play him.”, replies Djokovic. Franceinfo: sport evokes, with Arnaud Clément, consultant franceinfo: sport, the main stakes of this battle which promises to be high-flying.
The management of key moments
The main key to this semi-final will be the ability of both players to bend their opponent when it matters most. “There will inevitably be tense passages, hung ends of sets and Alcaraz must manage to stay fair because we know that Djokovic tends to tighten the game when necessary”, notes Arnaud Clément. Since the start of the tournament, “Nole” has sometimes been pushed around – whether by Alejandro Davidovitch Fokina or Karen Khachanov, who took a set from him – but he has always managed to win all the decisive games played (5/5 since beginning of the fortnight).
“Above all, he conceded no unforced errors in five decisive games playedunderlines the finalist of Melbourne in 2001. Alcaraz knows how to do a lot of things, he has quite an extraordinary variety in his game. But his biggest challenge is to be able to use the right shots at the right time. Especially since the Murcian has shown that he could be the victim of small deconcentrations, as against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“Any deconcentration is paid for in cash against Djokovic. He is able to win matches by being less strong than his opponents.”Arnaud Clément, consultant for franceinfo: sport
at franceinfo: sport
“He got a little lost when he could win the game very very easily, continues the consultant. What was interesting was that Carlos proved his ability to pull himself together immediately to conclude without trembling in quarters. But you have to be careful with these kinds of mistakes against Novak because it will be much less forgiving: he has an extraordinary concentration, tenfold in Major.”
The service battle
However, the “Djoker” has flaws, in particular his face-off. Apart from his round of 16 against Juan Pablo Varillas, he has never managed to pass more than 66% of his first balls. “The balance of power will depend in part on his ability to protect himself when his first does not pass because behind, he risks being attacked by the Spaniard”predicts Arnaud Clément, for whom Djokovic was also able to afford to have waste, knowing that he had room against weaker opponents.
On the Alcaraz side, the tactical implementation in the service was mastered to perfection against Stefanos Tsitsipas, an opponent against whom he was confident, insofar as he always beat him. “He pressed a lot on the backhand of the Greek but there, he will have to find something else. With Djokovic, he will come across the best backhand on the circuit: a two-handed backhand, capable of taking the balls earlier, at the top of the bounce”. It will be the one who can best adapt to his opponent over the course of the match.
Psychological mastery of the issue
On the psychological level, Carlos Alcaraz can capitalize on the fact that he won his only duel against Novak Djokovic. It was in 2022, already on earth, in the semi-finals of the Madrid tournament in an extremely tight game. But as he himself admitted after his qualification on Tuesday, the context is very different. “It’s always good to have history in your favor but I don’t think it influences the game in any way.approves Arnaud Clément. On the contrary, all the players are aware that beating Djokovic in straight sets is not like doing it in the best of five sets”.
Starting with the native ofEl Palmar and his trainer, Juan Carlos Ferrero. According to him, his foal is “convinced of being able to win against Djokovic”. “Still happy, he is world number 1 anywayreplies Arnaud Clément. These statements suggest that even Alcaraz does not see itself as a favourite”. For the former captain of the French Davis Cup team, this semi-final will decide “unofficially the status of best player in the world”. In this little game, the experience of the Serb who is playing his 45th Grand Slam semi-final, against two small ones for “Carlitos”, is an important element. “We know how Djokovic can respond when the pressure is maximum. For Alcaraz, it’s still a bit of the unknown.” One thing is certain, the winner of the confrontation will present himself as the main contender for the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday.
Source: France TV Info