10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Djokovic races away from cramping Alcaraz to coast into French Open final

The French Open semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz was the most highly anticipated match of the year in professional tennis, and for two sets it lived up to the billing.

Unfortunately for tennis fans, after two sets it was all but over. Alcaraz started cramping in both his hand and his legs early in the third set, and although he managed to finish the match he could not put up much of a fight. With his opponent struggling, Djokovic rolled to a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory after three hours and 23 minutes.

The 36-year-old Serb will play for what would be a third French Open title on Sunday against either Casper Ruud or Alexander Zverev. A win would also give Djokovic a record 23rd major title.

For two hours on Friday, it wasn’t easy. Djokovic took the opening set with a single break at 2-1, saving four break points in the process. Alcaraz hit back in the second, and although he failed to serve it out 5-3 the world No. 1 broke to love at 6-5 to level the contest at a set apiece. Alcaraz’s second-set push included perhaps the shot of the year, in which he scrambled back from the net to retrieve a lob and flicked a forehand winner past a stunned Djokovic.

An instant classic seemed to be in the cards, but at 1-1 in the third Alcaraz’s physical problems arrived and from there it was all over.

“First and foremost I have to say tough luck for Carlos,” Djokovic said. “Obviously at this level the last thing you want is cramp and physical problems at the late stages of a Grand Slam. So I feel for him; I feel sorry.

“I told him at the net, he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament I’m sure many, many times. He’s an unbelievable player, an incredible competitor, and a very nice guy.

“It’s tough, obviously, for him to not know whether he should retire [from] the match or finish the match the way he did. Congratulations to him for his fighting spirit and hanging in all the way until the last point. Respect for that; great respect.”

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