Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2023

Novak Djokovic ‘living the dream’ as he moves closer to record 23rd Grand Slam

Novak Djokovic is into his 34th Grand Slam final, after a ‘disappointing’ conclusion to his blockbuster clash with Carlos Alcaraz.

Djokovic beat Alcaraz, 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1, in the Roland Garros semi-final with those last two sets hampered by the Spaniard picking up full body cramps and being unable to move in typical fashion.

The first two sets had lived up to the hype that many had built-up for only the second meeting between the No.1 and the 22-time Grand Slam champion, with Alcaraz hitting an incredible winner towards the start of the second set.

However, the Serb took control following Alcaraz’s physical issues beginning at the start of the third set and there was no way back after that.

Alcaraz spoke of his disappointment after the match, “It’s been tough. I disappointed myself. Came into this match feeling great physically and this happened. If someone tells you it’s the same having a player like Novak in the other side of the net, he is lying.”

The US Open champion added, “Very tough for me. Cramping at the end of the second was really disappointing, I’m dealing with that. The end of the set was really tense. First it was the arm, and then the other parts of my body. My full body started to cramp.”

Djokovic offered his sympathy to the 20-year-old, who he claims will win Roland Garros ‘many, many times’, “Tough luck for Carlos. Obviously at this level, the last thing you want is cramps and physical problems at the late stages of a Grand Slam so I feel for him, I feel sorry. I hope he can recover and he can come back very soon.”

He continued, “I told him at the net, you know, he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him so he’s going to win this tournament I’m sure many, many times. He’s an unbelievable player, incredible competitor, very nice guy. So he deserves all the applause and all the support.”

The 36-year-old also spoke about how he had similar physical issues to Alcaraz early in his career, and agreed that the stakes of the match probably played a part in the Spaniard’s downfall.

“Early in my career I was struggling a little bit physically, I can understand the circumstances, maybe for the 1st time of his career, Carlos was the favourite chasing the trophy. It probably affected him. It’s part of the learning curve,” explained the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion.

Djokovic now moves into his 34th major final, equalling the record of Chris Evert, where he will play Casper Ruud in a bid to move ahead in the men’s singles Grand Slam record books for the first time in his career.

The two-time Roland Garros champion can also move back to the top of the rankings with a win on Court Philippe Chatrier tomorrow, and has spoken of how it all feels a ‘dream’.

“It’s not over yet, there’s another match to go in two days’ time,” said Djokovic. “I’m living a dream right now, and to be in a Roland-Garros final once more.”

Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud head-to-head

Djokovic will play Ruud for the fifth time in their showpiece final on Sunday, with the Norwegian reaching his second consecutive Roland Garros final after his defeat to Rafael Nadal last year.

Ruud will be hoping for a change in fortunes against the Serb, who he has never won a set against before and that includes two battles on the Rome clay.

Here is their head-to-head in full:

Djokovic vs Ruud: 4-0 

  1. Djokovic beat Ruud, 7-5 6-3 (Italian Open Semi-final 2020)
  2. Djokovic beat Ruud, 7-6(4) 6-2 (ATP Finals Round-Robin 2021)
  3. Djokovic beat Ruud, 6-4 6-3 (Italian Open Semi-final 2022)
  4. Djokovic beat Ruud, 7-5 6-3 (ATP Finals Final 2022)

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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.