French Open semifinal: Where the blockbuster match can be won by Carlos Alcaraz against Novak Djokovic

ByAratrick Mondal
Jun 09, 2023 09:46 AM IST

Ahead of the high-octane clash on Court Philippe Chatrier, we take a look at the possible factors which could give Alcaraz the edge over Djokovic

It is the date, it is the match that world tennis waited for. Since the shocking withdrawal from Rafael Nadal almost a month back, Novak Djokovic was touted for a record 23rd Grand Slam and a third title at the Roland Garros. But the announcement of the 2023 French Open draw, revealed his biggest obstacle and it wasn't even in the final. World No.1 and reigning US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, the player hailed to be the heir-apparent to the Big Three or a perfect blend of the three greatest players of men's singles tennis, was projected to meet Djokovic in the semis. The date was marked as world tennis waited with baited breathe and after the dominant runs in Paris by the two generational talents, the blockbuster semi-final match, probably the most anticipated tie of the calendar year, became a reality.

(L) Spain's Carlos Alcaraz Garfia and (R) Serbia's Novak Djokovic(AFP)
(L) Spain's Carlos Alcaraz Garfia and (R) Serbia's Novak Djokovic(AFP)

It is hard to imagine that the two top players on the tour have barely been part of the same draw together. The world was looking forward to Australian Open in January with Alcaraz, fresh from his US Open win, likely to be that roadblock for Djokovic, but the Spaniard had withdrawn with an injury. Later in Rome, there was a potential clash in the final, but neither ever made it that far. But Paris finally offers the long-awaited tie, and it's a reality now.

ALSO READ: Novak Djokovic's staggering Rafael Nadal remark on Carlos Alcaraz ahead of French Open semifinal clash

Overall, they have met only once so far on the tour, when Alcaraz had bounced back from a set down to beat the Serb in a three-setter semi-final tie in 2022 Madrid Open, just 24 hours after beating Rafael Nadal. Ahead of the high-octane clash on Court Philippe Chatrier, we take a look at the possible factors which could give Alcaraz the edge over the 22-time Grand Slam winner on Friday...

2nd Serve Points won

In a run as deep as reaching the semis of a Grand Slam, Djokovic is usually among the top names according to the serve. If not at the top, it is definitely well above the tournament average and threatening enough to make an opponent wary. But in Paris this year the numbers have been low. Not concerning low, but less by his standards. It is not the first serves won that has been the worrisome factor. With 74 per cent win in that department, Djokovic right there at the top, but it is the second serve won that has been the point in reference. His 54 per cent win behind second serve is indeed above the tournament average of 49, but it is far less especially when going up against an opponent like Alcaraz, who has a success percentage of 62.

Keeping it short

One of the most significant metrics behind Alcaraz's run to the semis has been in staggering dominance in the shorter rallies (0-4 shots). He has played 515 points in 0-4 shots with a win percentage of 62, significantly higher than Djokovic's 55.8 per cent from 589 points. However, it is the Serb who dominates the rallies of 5-8 shots and 9+ shots which implies that Alcaraz has to wary of sticking to his template of first-strike tennis.

The drop-shot weapon

Another telling aspect of Alcaraz's run has been the use of his drop shots. Anytime he catches the opponent too far back, Alcaraz dishes out the weapon and he has been exquisite with its usage. But in the semi-final, Alcaraz will be up against an opponent like any other he has faced in the last 12 months, let alone in the tournament. Djokovic is not just one of the best movers on the court, he is also great against returning drop shots. Hence, the 20-year-old has to be 100 per cent precise with the its usage.

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