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Alcaraz: Tension Caused Cramps

Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open Facebook

The sight of Novak Djokovic across the net created a stress test for Carlos Alcaraz.

On the hottest day of the tournament, two-time champion Djokovic pounded out a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over a cramping Alcaraz to reach his seventh Roland Garros final and 34th major championship match.

Afterward, Alcaraz, who forfeited the third game of the third set to take treatment for the issue, said tension and physicality of this blockbuster caused cramps.

“Yeah, the tension. The tension of the match,” Alcaraz said of his cramping. “You know, I started match really nervous. The tension of, you know, the first set, the second set, it was really intense two sets, as well.

“Really good rallies, tough rallies, you know, dropshots, sprints, rallies, you know. It’s a combination of a lot of things. But, you know, the main thing, it was the tension that I had all the first two sets.”

Though the 20-year-old Spaniard is 16 years younger than the 36-year-old Serbian superstar, Djokovic’s experience, conditioning and calm amid a heated battle were key components to his first win in two meetings vs. Alcaraz.

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion’s remarkable Grand Slam resume added to Alcaraz’s jitters.

“Is not easy to play against Novak, you know. Of course a legend of our sport,” Alcaraz said. “If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.

“Of course playing a semifinal of a Grand Slam, you have a lot of nerves, but even more with, you know, facing Novak.

“That’s the truth. Yeah, next time that I’m gonna face Novak, I hope to be different, but the nerves will be there.”

The US Open champion, who suffered cramps in his 2021 Flushing Meadows win over Stefanos Tsitsipas and his Miami Open loss to Jannik Sinner last March, said he was determined to complete the match.

“I would have felt sorry about myself if I would retire. I’m in a semifinal of a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said. “If I retired from that, it could have been really tough for me.

“Of course in the third set, no, but thinking about the fourth set, I thought that probably I have 1% chance, you know, to come back.

“It was really tough. But, you know, in the fourth set I had breakpoints in the first game (smiling). But, you know, after that, I just continue playing, you know. In my mind, in the fourth set, it was not the retirement.”