Something has to be done about tennis draws. There’s simply no reason that clearly the top two players at the clay-court French Open, the second Grand Slam championship, should be in the same half of the draw. That comes to a head Friday in the men’s semifinals between No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz and No. 3 Novak Djokovic in what is the de facto final as the winner will be a heavy favorite in Sunday’s championship match from Paris. Don’t miss this interesting opportunity, see the tennis betting analysis of the Men’s Semifinals to seek advantage in Roland Garros.
French Open Tennis Men’s Semifinals: Novak Djokovic Rare Underdog vs. Carlos Alcaraz
Alcaraz is a -190 favorite on the tennis odds for Friday and Djokovic +165 and that’s very notable in itself as it’s the first time since 2007 Wimbledon that Djokovic, arguably the GOAT in men’s tennis, has been an underdog against anyone against a player at a Grand Slam event other than fellow GOATs Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Should Djokovic win Friday and then Sunday, it would be Grand Slam title No. 22, breaking a tie with Nadal for the most all-time among men. Of course, Nadal, the 14-time French Open champion, couldn’t play this year due to injury. Djokovic already is the only man in history to be the reigning champion of all four majors at once across three different surfaces (2016), and the first in the Open Era to complete multiple career Grand Slams (2021).
Djokovic is a two-time French Open champion, last winning it in five sets over Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2021. Djokovic advanced to this year’s semis with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 11 Karen Khachanov. It was the first set dropped by Djokovic in this year’s tournament but his draw hasn’t been incredibly difficult with only two opponents so far in the ATP Top 80.
Djokovic did not earn a break point in the opening two sets vs. Khachanov but raised his level spectacularly from the second-set tie-break onwards to seal a three-hour, 38-minute win. Djokovic eventually declared it was the best he had felt since his 10th Australian Open title in January.
“I think he was the better player for most of the [first] two sets,” said Djokovic. “I was struggling to find my rhythm. I made a lot of unforced errors and came into the match quite slow, quite sluggish. But I played the perfect [second-set] tie-break, really, and from that moment I played a couple of levels higher than I did at the beginning. [There was] a little bit of a scare towards the end of the fourth set, but I managed to win eight points in a row to finish it off.”
It improved Djokovic to 9-1 career against Khachanov and it was his 90th match win at Roland-Garros – more than at any other Slam: “Against players like Karen – he has a big serve, maybe doesn’t move as well – I tried to expose him, make it unpredictable for him. It worked in the end. It was a big fight – it always is with Karen.”
The Spaniard Alcaraz is the No. 1 player in the world currently – moving back there right ahead of this tournament – but would lose the top spot back to Djokovic with a loss on Friday. Alcaraz advanced with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(5) victory over No. 5 Tsitsipas in the quarters. Alcaraz faced break points in just one game, as Tsitsipas broke late in the final set to stay alive, and ultimately sealed the victory on his sixth match point after two hours, 12 minutes.
Alcaraz is in his first semifinal in Paris, having already become the youngest man to reach consecutive Roland Garros quarter-finals since Djokovic in 2006-07. The 20-year-old improved to 35-3 this season and 5-0 overall against Tsitsipas. The only other Slam semifinal Alcaraz had reached was the 2022 US Open.
“I believe in myself all the time. I would say that’s the most important thing — not only for me, I would say for everyone, believing in yourself,” Alcaraz said on-court when asked how he produced such a strong performance. “I always think that I’m going to play these kind of matches in this level. I would say that’s the key of everything… with a joy. That’s the key.”
It will be only the second all-time meeting between Djokovic and Alcaraz with the Alcaraz winning in three sets in 2022 on the clay courts of Spain.
“Since the draw came out, everyone was expecting that match — the semifinal against Novak. Myself, as well. I really want to play that match,” Alcaraz said. “Since last year, I really wanted to play again against Novak.”
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