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Alcaraz sets Djokovic semifinal clash, Sabalenka moves on

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-06-07 15:08
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Spain's Carlos Alcaraz shakes hands with Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas after winning his quarter final match at French Open in Roland Garros, Paris, France on June 6, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz demonstrated his court dominance against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open quarterfinals on Tuesday. With a straight-set victory, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(5), he confirmed a highly anticipated semifinal against No 3 seed Novak Djokovic.

Earlier, the Serbian battled back from one set down to defeat Russia's Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-3, staying on track for a record 23rd men's Grand Slam singles title.

"This match is what everyone wants to watch, and it will be a good one to play," Alcaraz said about the upcoming semifinal.

"If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Djokovic is one of the best in the world, and I'm looking forward to it," added the 2022 US Open champion.

The blockbuster match between Alcaraz and Djokovic carries more than a spot in the final. The victor will depart Paris next week as the world's top-ranked player.

In the absence of 14-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz have long been perceived as joint favorites for the clay-court major. The performances from both players have been convincing thus far.

In the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz appeared untouchable against No 5 seed Tsitsipas, delivering 36 winners compared to his Greek opponent's 21. He claimed victory after two hours and 12 minutes.

"It wasn't much fun out there in the first two sets. I felt completely off," Tsitsipas admitted post-match. "I just hope it never happens again."

The Spaniard only faced break points in one game during the match, immediately following Tsitsipas' save of two match points when he served at 5-2 in the third set. After the initial break, Tsitsipas managed to stay in the game, holding his serve in the 10th game to even the score at 5-5.

"I lost my focus a bit at the end of the third set," Alcaraz conceded. "I had a couple of match points on the return, then serving for the match. He started to play better, but of course, I lost my focus a bit."

The set moved into a tiebreak, where a relentless Alcaraz elevated his game once again, securing a 7-5 win to claim his fifth victory over Tsitsipas in as many meetings.

Third-seeded Djokovic was on the brink of falling two sets behind against Khachanov after losing the first set and failing to break in the second. However, the 36-year-old veteran rallied in the tiebreak, seizing seven straight points to take the set.

"I think he was the better player for most of the first two sets," Djokovic said. "I played a perfect tiebreak, and from that moment onwards, I played a couple of levels higher than I did at the beginning."

The two-time Roland Garros champion stormed through the third and exhibited his trademark mental resilience in the fourth set, winning eight consecutive points from 4-4 before sealing the victory with an ace.

In women's action, second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 to secure her maiden semifinal appearance in Paris.

The Australian Open champion will face off against the Czech Republic's Karolina Muchova.

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