Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz - Roland Garros 2023

Novak Djokovic gearing up for ‘biggest challenge’ Carlos Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic will play No.1 Carlos Alcaraz in the highly anticipated semi-final of Roland Garros, and the Serb described it as his ‘biggest challenge’ after beating Karen Khachanov.

Djokovic beat Khachanov, 4-6 7-6(0) 6-2 6-4, to reach his 12th semi-final of the Paris major and was asked about the potential of facing Alcaraz after the match, comparing him to Rafael Nadal.

“Well, he carries himself very well. No doubt very nice guy on and off the court. Brings a lot of intensity on the court,” said Djokovic.

“Reminds me of someone from his country that plays with a left hand (smiling). He deserves his success, no doubt. He’s working hard, and he very complete player already and only age 20 – 19, 20?”

It will only be the second time the pair have played each other, with injuries and vaccination restrictions preventing them from meeting since their tightly contested match in the Spanish capital last year.

“So we played only once in Madrid last year, 7-6 in the third for him,” Djokovic continued. “We haven’t played since. Yeah, you’re right, most of the tournaments this year we were not in the same draw but here we are. If it comes to that match, that’s the match that, you know, a lot of people want to see.”

The 36-year-old added, “It’s definitely the biggest challenge for me, you know, so far in the tournament. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. He’s definitely a guy to beat here. I’m looking forward to that.”

Alcaraz beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to officially set up the contest, and repeated Djokovic’s sentiment of ‘if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.’

“I really want to play that match. Since last year I really wanted to play again against Novak,” explained Alcaraz. “You know, we both are playing a great level, and if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

The US Open champion added, “So I’m really looking for that match. I’m going to enjoy it. It’s amazing to make history, you know, playing a semifinal with such a legend like Novak. So it’s going to be a great match for me.”

Alcaraz and Djokovic will play their semi-final match on Friday, as they both attempt to reach the Roland Garros final.

Novak Djokovic vs Carlos Alcaraz head-to-head

Djokovic and Alcaraz have regularly traded the No.1 ranking with each other over the past few months, despite not playing against each other.

If Djokovic wins the title in Paris then he will return to No.1, however if Alcaraz wins on Friday he will cement his place at the top of the tree.

Here is the tale of the tape:

Grand Slam titles

Novak Djokovic – 22

Carlos Alcaraz – 1

Best performance at Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic – Won (2016 & 2021)

Carlos Alcaraz – Semi-final (2023*)

Previous meeting

Madrid Open Semi-final (2022): Carlos Alcaraz beat Novak Djokovic, 6(5)-7 7-5 7-6(5)

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.