Roland Garros 2023 | Novak Djokovic – Carlos Alcaraz, the blockbuster of transition

Here we are finally. A year, a month and two days after their first and, for a few more hours, the only confrontation to date, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic will meet on a tennis court. It was in Madrid on May 7, 2022 and this tasty appetizer, from which the young Spaniard emerged victorious in the tie-break of the last set, had a taste of coming back to it that will have been long overdue.

Since then, due to the injuries of one and the impediments of the other, they have not always been able to line up in the same tables. When this was the case, there was always someone or a few to deprive us of this reunion. Like last year at Roland-Garros, when they were stopped dead by Nadal and Zverev when they could already have been the poster for the semi-final at the top of the table. This time, Nadal is gone, Zverev is down and the Spanish-Serbian duo are on different heights.


“With a model like Federer, Muchova triumphed by varying her game a lot”


“Djokovic will suffer physically, but in the best of 5 sets, he will be there”

Over the past fifteen years, apart from the common games of the members of the Big 3, or even the Big 4, no match had been so expected in a Grand Slam. We can be wrong, of course, but difficult to find something comparable. You can’t dream of anything better right now. The public wanted it, tennis needed it.

If it was “only” the duel between the two best players of the moment, it would already be alluring. But it’s not just that. It is also a confrontation between the last survivor of the most legendary trio in the history of tennis (64 Grand Slam titles between them, let’s remember anyway) and the one who, even if he is only at the very beginning of his trajectory as a champion, seems able to follow in their footsteps and embrace their greatness.

It is this generational dimension between two evidences, one anchored for a very long time (Djokovic is one of the giants of this sport) and the other barely less indisputable (Alcaraz will become one) which gives this fight everything its salt. With, as the icing on the cake, the scent of the unprecedented. Whether “Fedal”, “Djokodal” or “Fedovic”, the Big 3 offered 49 duels in Grand Slam tournaments. This Djokovic-Alcaraz will however be the very first of the name on a major stage.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer

Credit: AFP

Novelty excites. It intrigues, too, because in our boots remains a ton of questions: is Alcaraz already so strong that even Djokovic will be carried away by the tornado? Will the Serb summon a mountain of pride to refuse to dub ‘Carlitos’ today as the new king? Can a page of history be written on Friday? The quest for these answers further sublimates the stakes of an event that the two protagonists were no doubt awaiting with as much impatience as we did. Because they also want to know.

Despite being 16 years apart, there’s no saying it was “now or never” to see these two go head-to-head. Novak Djokovic may be advancing in age, the Serb shows no noticeable sign of weakening, even less when the fortnights come. If the wait was long, the frontal impact of the Porte d’Auteuil still has time to generate little brothers.

The fact remains that if Carlos Alcaraz is to forge lasting rivalries, namely over the coming decade, it is more than likely that he will have to turn to other companions. A Rune, perhaps. A Sinner. Or others. With Djokovic, it’s different. A pleasure of another nature. A kind of transition blockbuster, to gently turn the page of fifteen years of feast between the three lords, before, perhaps, moving on to something else.

Di Pasquale: ‘Alcaraz has reached the point where he scares all his opponents before matches’

Perhaps, because nothing says that Carlos Alcaraz will find an interlocutor at his height as was the case for Federer with Nadal, then Djokovic. It is still only a presentiment, more than a truth engraved in tennis marble, but it is difficult to see today who, in a constant way, could impose himself as his great rival. But that’s another question. Another debate. In the meantime, we must savor without moderation what awaits us on Friday.

Especially since, to reduce this match to its short-term challenge, it is perhaps the real final of this 2023 edition that is coming to light. We can also find in this last square an echo 10 years old. In 2013, Novak Djokovic faced Rafael Nadal in a memorable semi-final that sealed the tournament’s fate. The other ticket for the final was then played between David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It was not insulting them to think at the time that the winner would above all win the right to be the victim of one of the two monsters in the final. It was Nadal. It was Ferrer. And it was the case. There had been no final.

Ten years later, Djokovic is still there, Alcaraz replaced Nadal but the same reasoning can apply to Casper “Ferrer” Ruud and Alexander “Tsonga” Zverev. Nothing is written in advance, it’s true, and the story is full of surprises and setbacks. But they remain exceptions, and this is even more significant in our time. It would be surprising if the future winner of this Roland-Garros did not set foot on Chatrier land at 2:45 p.m. So, place your bets. Everything’s good. The big moment has arrived.

Carlos Alcaraz vs Novak Djokovic.

Credit: Getty Images


“Djokovic will suffer physically, but in the best of 5 sets, he will be there”



Zverev no longer thinks about his injury and he would like us to do the same


2023-06-09 06:20:00
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