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Ricky’s picks for Day 6 of the French Open, including Djokovic and Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are on a collision course for the French Open semifinals semifinals. On Friday they will try to earn spots in the fourth round in respective matchups with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Denis Shapovalov.

(3) Novak Djokovic vs. (29) Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Djokovic has not yet dropped a set at this tournament, but he was tested in the third set against Aleksandar Kovacevic and the first set against Marton Fucsovics–both of which went to tiebreakers. It will likely get tougher for Djokovic with Davidovich Fokina on the other side of the net. Djokovic dominated their first two meetings, but Davidovich Fokina pulled off a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1 upset at the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters.

Unlike many opponents when they face the Big 3, Davidovich Fokina won’t lack belief. In addition to his one victory over Djokovic, he is also playing well right now. The 23-year-old Spaniard has won 19 matches in 2023 and is up to No. 34 in the world, good for the 29th seed in Paris. He kicked off his French Open campaign by defeating Frenchmen Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche, dropping just one set to Fils in the process. This should be a high-quality contest, but Djokovic looked very good against Fucsovics and with two matches under his belt he should only be improving as the tournament progresses.

Pick: Djokovic in 4

(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (26) Denis Shapovalov

Alcaraz and Shapovalov will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers. It has been a mostly routine start to the fortnight for Alcaraz, who erased Flabio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 before beating Taro Daniel 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The top-ranked Spaniard is 32-3 this season with a quartet of titles, including three on clay (Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid).

Just getting to round three is a big success for Shapovalov. In fact, he had previously never advanced this far at the French Open. The 32nd-ranked Canadian’s 2023 form did not inspire any confidence, either, as his record is just 9-9 following victories over Brandon Nakashima (five sets) and Matteo Arnaldi (four). Shapovalov did well to win those matches, but a big step up in competition will almost certainly mark the end. It’s an especially bad matchup for the 24-year-old on clay, as he won’t be able to play short point.

Pick: Alcaraz in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.