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Quote of the Day: Carlos Alcaraz reveals how 'the tension' of facing Djokovic triggered full-body cramps
"Playing a semifinal of a Grand Slam, you have a lot of nerves, but even more with facing Novak," Alcaraz said after his 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 defeat at Roland Garros. "That's the truth."
Published Jun 09, 2023
WATCH: Carlos Alcaraz speaks with the media after his 2023 Roland Garros semifinal loss.
For two sets, the blockbuster Roland Garros semifinal between top seed Carlos Alcaraz and 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic was living up to its billing.
But early in the third set, it was clear that the monumental effort made by the Spaniard to just keep pace with Djokovic on a hot day was taking its toll. As both players started breaking down physically—at one point, Djokovic needed treatment on his right arm, while Alcaraz fought off muscle cramps—it was Djokovic's fitness that made the difference.
"I started to cramp in my arm [during the second set]," Alcaraz revealed during his post-match press conference. "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...
"It was really tough. My full body start to cramp."
Alcaraz gamely willed himself on for the next two sets, but it was clear to everyone that it wouldn't be enough to halt Djokovic. The 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory sent the No. 4 seed back into the final, where Djokovic will play for a shot to make history with a men's all-time record 23rd Grand Slam trophy.
While the Spaniard has never been one to show nerves during a big match or be overwhelmed by an occasion, on Friday he admitted that "the tension of the match" played a role—as well as his Big 3 opponent.
Alcaraz recalled being nervous at the start of the match, and struggling to keep his emotions under control during the the first two sets: "It's a combination of a lot of things," he explained, while also highlighting their physical rallies. "But the main thing, it was the tension that I had all the two first sets."
Q. Did today's cramping have a lot to do, as you said, with the tension, but also with the fact that it was Novak Djokovic on the other side of the net?
CARLOS ALCARAZ: Probably (smiling). Probably.
Is not easy to play against Novak, of course, a legend of our sport. If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.
Of course playing a semifinal of a Grand Slam, you have a lot of nerves, but even more with facing Novak. That's the truth.
Yeah, next time that I'm gonna face Novak, I hope to be different, but the nerves will be there.
Despite being racked with pain for the majority of the match, Alcaraz said retiring was never an option. The 20-year-old received treatment on and off the court—costing him a game in the third set—and seemed to regain his movement despite remaining physically hampered. That slight improvement was enough make him feel like he had at least "one percent chance" to turn things around.
"I would have felt sorry about myself if I would retire," he said. "I'm in a semifinal of a Grand Slam. If I retired from that, it could have been really tough for me.
"Of course in the third set, no. But thinking about the fourth set, I thought that probably I have one percent chance to come back."