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PARIS, France – Carlos Alcaraz described his French Open demolition of fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, June 6, as one of the best matches of his young career and said his level was only improving ahead of a meeting with Novak Djokovic.
Barring a late wobble that only slightly delayed the inevitable on the floodlit Court Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz was in supreme form as he sealed a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(5) win to set up the mouthwatering semifinal on Friday.
“Yeah, I think my level is getting better every time I’m winning. I think today was such a great level. I played really well. I’d say one of the best matches of my career,” Alcaraz told reporters.
“I’d say everything that I did, it was easy… I try to do it simple for me. Every shot that I’m making in the match means that I’m really comfortable on that shot.
“I feel great. I feel that every time that I make that shot, it’s going to be in. So it’s simple for me, as well.”
Alcaraz, who is chasing a second major title, knows exactly what it takes to get past 22-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic, having beaten the Serbian in three sets when they clashed for the first time in Madrid last year.
Their battle for the number one ranking has proven to be a long-distance rivalry this season due to injuries and Djokovic being forced to miss the US hardcourt swing over his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Since the (Roland Garros) draw came out, everyone was expecting this 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 him. We’re both playing a great level and as I said before, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. So I’m really looking forward to that match. I’m going to enjoy it.
“Of course for me, it’s amazing to make history, playing a semifinal with such a legend like Novak. So it’s going to be a great match for me.”
Alcaraz expects a different match but said he wanted to believe his youth would give him the edge over the 36-year-old Djokovic.
“But it’s going to be his 45th semifinal in a Grand Slam. This is going to be my second,” the US Open champion added.
“I’d say the experience is better in that point, but I’m not going to think about that.”
Tsitsipas blames nap, sleeping pills for Alcaraz mauling
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, put his three-set quarterfinal mauling against Alcaraz down to sleeping pills, prematch naps, and late matches rather than the Spaniard’s sensational quality.
Alcaraz pulverized the fifth seed with a jaw-dropping display before a brief comeback by Tsitsipas forced a third set tiebreak which the Spaniard won as well.
While Alcaraz described the win as one of the best of his career, for his opponent the defeat was self-induced.
“One thing that I’m going to try to avoid in the future is have melatonin pills and naps before matches because it clearly doesn’t seem to be working,” a visibly disappointed Tsitsipas said.
“I don’t think he played any crazy tennis. I allowed it to happen. I don’t think he played his best match. He played great. I mean, I don’t think he played exceptional, but he played great.”
“He played tennis with few errors and that was enough to beat me.”
Alcaraz needed just 100 minutes to go two sets and 5-1 up in the third on Court Philippe Chatrier, having outclassed his opponent in every single aspect of the game.
Tsitsipas, however, said a 20-minute nap before the match as well as the use of melatonin tablets to regulate his sleep during the tournament and late matches in Paris had been decisive.
“I had some late-night sessions. Not super late, but late enough for me to kind of have my sleep schedule ruined, in a way,” he said.
Tsitsipas did not play a single late night session match during the tournament before his match against Alcaraz.
“I wondered myself why I did not feel the adrenaline and stress,” he said. “I wondered in my first service game. I was more calm than usual. I tried to nap before the game. About 20 minutes which I usually do not do, actually never done.”
“My start was highly likely down to this.”
The 24-year-old Greek burst onto the scene as a hugely talented teenager a few years ago but has yet to land a Grand Slam title. – Rappler.com