10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s pick for the Alcaraz vs. Djokovic semifinal on Day 13 at Roland Garros

The general consensus is that Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic should be the Roland Garros final, but the ATP rankings allowed the draw ceremony to have other ideas. Alcaraz and Djokovic landed in the same half of the bracket and almost two weeks later their highly anticipated semifinal matchup is happening.

Since Rafael Nadal’s French Open withdrawal, Alcaraz and Djokovic have been by far the top two title favorites. And nothing about either man’s performance so far in Paris has changed that.

Faced with a relatively tough draw in the fourth round and quarterfinals, Alcaraz has been especially impressive. After defeating Flavio Cobolli, Taro Daniel, and Denis Shapovalov, the Spaniard emphatically crushed Lorenzo Musetti and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Only Daniel has managed to take a set.

Djokovic has also dropped just one set while getting the best of Aleksandar Kovacevic, Marton Fucsovics, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Juan Pablo Varillas, and Karen Khachanov. The match against Khachanov was competitive for two sets, as the surprisingly won the first and forced a tiebreaker in the second before ultimately bowing out 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-4.

The result is just a second-ever encounter between Alcaraz and Djokovic. They previously squared off at the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open, where Alcaraz triumphed 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5).

Friday’s showdown has a chance to be every bit as good. Both players should be confident, as Alcaraz is 35-3 in 2023 and since the Aussie Open (which he missed) has been the best player on the ATP Tour–including throughout this particular fortnight. Djokovic is obviously a dominant force in slams, with 22 such title (including two at the French).

Of course, Alcaraz won the last major in which he participated (2022 U.S. Open) so it’s hard to say that Djokovic’s experience at this stage of majors will be a real factor. Djokovic will have to raise his level to match and surpass that of the top seed if he wants to book a place in the final. Djokovic has struggled at times throughout this tournament and has often resorted to drop-shots to bail himself out of jams. Drop-shots, of course, are not the recipe for success against the best mover on tour in Alcaraz.

If Alcaraz continues to play like he did against Tsitsipas, he isn’t going to lose at Roland Garros–not even to Djokovic.

Pick: Alcaraz in 4

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