Alcaraz: 'Tension Of Match' Fuelled Cramp
For two sets, Carlos Alcaraz put on a show during his semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros, matching the Serbian stride for stride as the ATP stars went to battle at the clay-court major.
However, after winning the second set to level the match, Alcaraz started to suffer cramp in his right calf and was forced to forfeit his service game at 1-1 in the third set to receive immediate treatment at the changeover from the physio. Two-time champion Djokovic went on to win 12 of the last 14 games.
Following the match, the Spaniard was asked whether his cramping experience was the hardest he has ever faced on court.
“Probably,” the 20-year-old replied. “It has been really tough for me today. I have never felt something like I did today. I have never felt that tension that I did in that match.
“I would say the first set and the second set was really, really intense and I started to cramp in my arm. At the beginning of the third set I started to cramp every part of my body, not only the legs. The arms, as well, every part of the legs,” Alcaraz later continued. “It was really tough for me to move at the third set, and in the fourth set let's say I had a little chance, but it was really tough. My full body started to cramp.”
Alcaraz was chasing his second major title at the clay-court event and knew victory against Djokovic on Friday would have ensured he remained No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings following the tournament. The Serbian can now return to top spot if he wins a record 23rd major on Sunday.
The top seed, who was the youngest man to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros since a then-20-year-old Djokovic in 2007, believes the pressure of the occasion played a part in his physical demise.
“It was the tension of the match. I started the match really nervous. The tension of the first set, the second set, it was really intense two sets, as well,” Alcaraz said. “There [were] really good rallies, tough rallies. Drop shots, sprints, rallies. It's a combination of a lot of things. But the main thing, it was the tension that I had all the two first sets.”
Aged 20, Alcaraz has risen to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, captured four ATP Masters 1000 titles and a major crown at the US Open. The Spaniard, who is 35-4 in 2023, is aware there will be lower points during his career, though, and hopes to learn from his semi-final disappointment.
“You have to learn from these kinds of matches, these kinds of experiences,” Alcaraz said. “I would say I take lessons from that match. I will try [for it] to not happen again in these matches. I have to take lessons from that experience and it's something that I have to deal with.”
Alcaraz will next compete at The Queen's Club, where he will make his debut.