Alcaraz Masterclass Overwhelms Tsitsipas; Djokovic Next In SFs
The Spaniard was largely untouchable in a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(5) victory on Tuesday night at Roland Garros, setting up a semi-final showdown against Novak Djokovic on Friday. He faced break points in just one game, as Tsitsipas broke late in the final set to stay alive, and ultimately sealed the victory on his sixth match point after two hours, 12 minutes.
"I believe in myself all the time. I would say that's the most important thing — not only for me, I would say for everyone, believing in yourself," Alcaraz said on-court when asked how he produced such a strong performance. "I always think that I'm going to play these kind of matches in this level. I would say that's the key of everything... with a joy. That's the key."
If Alcaraz defeats Djokovic to reach his second major final, he will retain the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking following the tournament. Should Djokovic win, he could reclaim the top spot by winning his third Roland Garros title.
With Tuesday's victory, Alcaraz advanced to his first semi-final at the clay-court major, having already become the youngest man to reach consecutive Roland Garros quarter-finals since Djokovic in 2006-07. The 20-year-old improved to 35-3 this season and 5-0 overall against Tsitsipas.
In an overwhelming performance, Alcaraz set the tone immediately with a barrage from the baseline. Following a familiar pattern in his matches against Tsitsipas — and many of his opponents on the ATP Tour — that firepower put the Greek on his back foot and opened the door for drop shots, which Alcaraz feathered in with perfect placement time and again.
Tsitsipas was left stranded no matter what he tried, with Alcaraz outstanding from every part of the court. Even with heavy encouragement from the Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd, which did its best to will the Greek into the match, there was little hope of a comeback after Tsitsipas lost seven straight games from 1-2 in the second set.
The Greek thrilled the evening crowd with a late charge to force a tie-break from 2-5 in the final set, but Alcaraz closed out the victory with a strong and steady tie-break, his first of the fortnight. The match finished nearly 30 minutes after his first match point, on return at 5-2.
"I lost my focus a little bit at the end of the third set," Alcaraz reflected. "I had a couple of match points on the return, [and then] serving for the match. He started to play, I would say, better. But of course I lost my focus a little bit.
"I was in trouble. I'm really happy to overcome that problem, still playing a great level, believing in myself, believing that I was going to win the third set. But of course it was really tough at the end of the match."
When Tsitsipas cranked up the power from the baseline, Alcaraz replied with even more punch, firing forehand winners as fast as 115 mph. The Greek's drop shots were repeatedly foiled by Alcaraz's unmatched speed and Tsitsipas' net approaches ended in frustration — so much so that the he celebrated a rare drop-volley winner late in the match, feeding the crowd's cheers.
Alcaraz, whose repertoire in the match included a tweener-like flick from the side of his body as he tracked down a lob, has more than lived up to his billing as the top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time.
The youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007, Alcaraz is seeking his second major victory in as many appearances. After winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, and earning his debut atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings along with it, he missed the Australian Open with an abdominal injury before returning to the ATP Tour in mid-February.
Looking ahead to his semi-final against Djokovic, Alcaraz shared that he had been hoping to earn the opportunity to meet the Serbian, whom he beat in their lone previous match last year in Madrid.
"This match is one everyone wanted to watch. I would say it's going to be a really good match to play and to watch as well," Alcaraz said. "I really wanted to play this match as well. I always say that if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Novak Djokovic right now is one of the best players in the world, so it's going to be a really tough challenge for me. But I'm really looking forward to that match, playing such a great level."
For Tsitsipas, his chase for a maiden major continues. Tuesday's defeat was his first in a Grand Slam quarter-final; he was previously 6-0 at that stage, having reached the Roland Garros semis in 2020 and the final in 2021.