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Alcaraz books Djokovic clash in semis

AFP . Paris
08 Jun 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 07 Jun 2023 23:01:12
Alcaraz books Djokovic clash in semis

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will square off in a blockbuster French Open semi-final after the latter defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Djokovic, chasing a third French Open crown and record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title, recovered from dropping his first set of the tournament to defeat 11th

seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2, 6-4.

The 36-year-old Serb is in his 12th Roland Garros semi-final -- his 45th at the majors -- and faces Alcaraz for a place in the final after the world number one thrashed 2021 runner-up Tsitsipas in straight sets.

“That’s the match that a lot of people want to see. It’s definitely the biggest challenge for me so far in the tournament,” said Djokovic, who lost his only meeting with Alcaraz in Madrid last year.

“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. He’s definitely a guy to beat here. I’m looking forward to that.”

Djokovic fell behind for the first time this fortnight against Khachanov but dominated the second-set tie-break and then broke to begin the third set after a favourable bounce off the net.

Djokovic hit 19 winners and just one unforced error in the third set, conceding a solitary point on his serve before breaking the Russian again for good measure.

He briefly let slip a 4-2 lead in the fourth set but immediately broke back and secured a ninth win in 10 tries against Khachanov with an ace on match point.

Alcaraz once more showed why he is the favourite with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in the night session, easily navigating his stiffest challenge to date.

The 20-year-old Spaniard has won all five meetings with Tsitsipas and becomes the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007.

Tsitsipas started with a confident hold but Alcaraz soon grabbed control with two breaks to bag the opening set.