Friday afternoon’s French Open semi-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic is about to begin (13:55 UK time). Read on to find out how to live stream it.
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In the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal, who is set to bow out from tennis next year, Carlos Alcaraz (Nadal’s heir) and Novak Djokovic (Nadal’s long-time rival) have been considered joint-favourites to take the 14-time champion’s crown. Eyes were immediately fixated on this potential men’s semi-final that many fans had dreamed of seeing.
It became a distinct possibility after Djokovic was seeded third following issues in the build-up to Roland Garros, it meant he was placed in the same half as the young Spaniard who has replaced him as the world’s number one player.
“This match is what everyone wants to watch and it will be a good one to play,” Alcaraz said after his quarter-final win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“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.”
Djokovic, who survived a quarter-final scare from Karen Khachanov, is aiming to become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. But this will be his toughest test against the defending US Open champion.
Battle for Number One
This will only be the second meeting between Alcaraz and Djokovic and the first at a major. Djokovic, who has won five of the past seven majors he has played, lost their previous battle, on clay, at the 2022 Madrid Masters, though it was a closely fought contest. Alcaraz winning 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6(5).
There’s also more than a Roland Garros final place at stake. It could decide who leaves Paris as world number one. If Alcaraz prevails, he will guarantee his standing as the top dog. If Djokovic wins, he will be one win from a record-setting 23rd major title and a return to the top spot next Monday.
The youngest French Open semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007, Alcaraz is seeking his second major victory in as many appearances. On the other side, Djokovic is seeking to reach the seventh final from his past eight Grand Slam outings and claim his sixth major title during that stretch.
How the semi-final could be decided
As touched upon, there was not that much to separate Alcaraz and Djokovic in their one and only previous meeting. Two of those three sets were decided on a tie-break which went Alcaraz’s way. However, Djokovic’s tie-break stats this fortnight will give the El Palmar native something to think about.
The two-time Roland Garros champion won a critical second-set tie-break 7/0 in his quarter-final win. Djokovic has outscored opponents 35-12 in his five tie-breaks and hit 13 winners to an astonishing zero unforced errors. Djokovic has also moved into the lead on the Open Era leaderboard for tie-break winning percentage. With his five tie-break wins in Paris, he is now 307-162 in his career (65.5%).
“In the tie-break, the format is such that you serve every two points. Every point matters. Really, every point can decide in which direction [the] tie-break is going to go,” he said. “So I think it’s kind of a mentality of a lockdown. ‘Okay, I’m present, I’m focused only on the next point and I have to really think clearly about what I want to do’… obviously, depending on who you’re facing in a given opponent. It [has] worked really well for me.”
Prediction: Alcaraz 3-2 Djokovic
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