Carlos Alcaraz defended Novak Djokovic after being questioned about the great Serb’s behaviour following the pair’s 2023 French Open semi-final clash.
Djokovic defeated Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Friday to reach his seventh Roland Garros final. After two thrilling and intense sets, Alcaraz suffered badly with cramps from early in the third set until the match’s conclusion.
The 36-year-old, who is currently ranked third, will reclaim the world No 1 spot from Alcaraz if he beats Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic is aiming to win a men’s record 23rd Grand Slam title to surpass his great rival Rafael Nadal – who he is currently tied with on 22.
Victory would also see him secure the second leg of a potential Calendar Grand Slam after he won the Australian Open in January.
Following the semi-final, Alcaraz revealed he had no problem with Djokovic continuing to celebrate with fist pumps and roars after his cramping issues started.
“I don’t blame him for anything. He had to close the match. It’s challenging to play against someone who isn’t at 100%. While they may experience a downturn, you can’t afford to have that downturn and instead must find a way to close the match,” Alcaraz said in his post-match press conference.
“Clenching your fists helps maintain intensity and allows you to close the match as quickly as possible. I don’t blame Djokovic for doing that. The truth is, if I were facing someone who was injured or not playing at their best, and I experienced a slump, I would likely do the same. Closing a match is never easy.”
The 20-year-old also addressed the Serb taking a bathroom break after the gruelling second set, but again refused to criticise his rival.
“Many people may want to create controversy and claim that Novak went to the bathroom to stop the game or break the rhythm, but no, not in my case. I don’t believe it influenced anything,” he added.
Alcaraz admitted the fact he was facing the 22-time Grand Slam champion likely played a part in the nervous tension he felt and contributed to his cramping.
“Probably (smiling). Probably. Is not easy to play against Novak, you know. Of course a legend of our sport. If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies,” the Spaniard said.
“Of course, playing a semi-final of a Grand Slam, you have a lot of nerves, but even more with, you know, 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.”
The article ‘I don’t blame him for anything’ – Carlos Alcaraz defends Novak Djokovic from ‘controversy’ appeared first on Tennis365.com.