Thursday, May 23, 2024

Roland Garros 2023: The Dream Matchup Before the Final

Carlos Alcaraz is in for a “big battle” against Novak Djokovic in their 2023 Roland Garros semi-final and will “suffer” at times during the match, reckons Eurosport’s Alex Corretja.

Corretja has witnessed Alcaraz’s momentous 2023 Roland-Garros campaign up close, watching him from courtside and regularly talking to the young Spaniard after his matches.

But now comes Alcaraz’s biggest test with a last-four clash against Novak Djokovic, in a match that many were hoping for when the draw was made.

Roland Garros 2023: The Final Before the Final

Roland Garros semi-final dream matchup

Corretja, a two-time French Open runner-up, highlighted how his fellow Spaniard is being received back home for his stellar displays, and how he thinks he needs to play against Djokovic.

“Everybody is so pumped for Carlitos to do well here at Roland-Garros,” Corretja said. “They are expecting that big clash against Djokovic.

“I’m sure it’s not going to be easy, but everyone is confident with Alcaraz back home; that he can do well and play well, being ready, but he’s going to suffer because it’s not easy to beat Djokovic in best of five.

“He needs to be patient and wait for his chance. He needs to play his game. He doesn’t need to change anything specific. He will need to be there knowing that Novak has plenty of experience in best of fives, and that he’s going to play deep and long rallies.

“Novak is going to try to serve well. Carlos needs to dictate; playing aggressively, but not rushing. It’s difficult to maintain the level for two and a half, three hours, trying to win every single point.

Creativity is always good, but he might need to be practical, not going for every shot for a winner, because Novak might play quite stably. He’s going to do as best he can, using his experience, his serve, and playing as deep as he can so Carlos can’t dictate and play a lot of drop shots or winners.

“I’m expecting a big battle, but I think Carlos has a bit more variation in his game, but Novak has, for sure, more experience.”

Roland Garros 2023: The Final Before the Final

Djokovic on his Roland Garros opponent

Djokovic was quizzed about Alcaraz in his post-match press conference after beating Karen Khachanov 4-6 7-6(0) 6-2 6-4 and admitted that he reminded him of Rafael Nadal.

The Serbian said: “Well, he carries himself very well. No doubt a very nice guy on and off the court. Brings a lot of intensity on the court. Reminds me of someone from his country that plays with a left hand…

“He deserves his success, no doubt. He’s working hard, and he’s a complete player already and only 20.

“So we played only once in Madrid last year, 7-6 in the third for him. We haven’t played since. In most of the tournaments this year we were not in the same draw but here we are.

“It’s definitely the biggest challenge for me, you know, so far in the tournament. To be the best, you have to beat the best. He’s definitely a guy to beat here. I’m looking forward to that.”

Ferrero’s Influence

Much has been made of the influence of Juan Carlos Ferrero on Alcaraz, with the French Open champion from 2003 now acting as coach to the 20-year-old.

Corretja labelled their combination as “almost unbeatable”.

'We know Novak!' - Ferrero on Alcaraz approach for semi-final clash with Djokovic

‘We know Novak!’ – Ferrero on Alcaraz approach for semi-final clash with Djokovic

“If you see Alcaraz, it’s obvious he’d play well with whoever [coached him],” Corretja added.

“I don’t know if he’d be that quick, that determined, or how he knows how to handle a situation. Having Ferrero next to him, who’s had similar situations to him in the past, that’ll help him so much.

“You need to have the player, then if you have a great coach like Juan Carlos, the combination is almost unbeatable.”

The 2023 Roland Garros men’s semi-final matchup takes place on Friday morning beginning at approximately 9:00 a.m. EST.