What should have been a true tennis battle of many hours between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic ended Friday afternoon in a big disappointment. The body of the still only 20-year-old Spaniard let him down after two intense sets. Alcaraz himself had not seen it coming, but can name the cause. 'The tension got the better of me. I've never felt so nervous on court," the world number one said.
The first two sets between Alcaraz and Djokovic were of a high standard. Both top players were evenly matched and after the Spaniard won the second set, the momentum seemed to be complete with the world number one as well. However, things went completely wrong at the start of the third set. "At the beginning of the third set, I got cramps all over my body. I went into the match physically just really well, so I think it was the tension of a big match and the intensity of the duel. The first two sets were gruelling," is Alcaraz's explanation of the cramping.
Where Alcaraz is never quick to complain about aches and pains, it was now quickly apparent that things were not going to be okay. "I can't keep playing like this," he shouted desperately toward his box. Alcaraz requested another injury treatment but to no avail. Against his better judgment, but hoping for a miracle, he refused to throw in the towel early. But the match went out like a candle.
Alcaraz disappointed in himself
At the press conference after the semifinal, disappointment clearly dripped off the Spaniard's face. "I really disappointed myself," said Alcaraz, who described the match against Djokovic as the most exciting ever in his still-young career and had the requisite nerves. "Of course, that had to do with my opponent. Anyone who says it's the same to play against Djokovic as against any other player is lying. I was facing a legend. Of course, that haunts your mind."
Djokovic smelled blood in sets three and four and saw that his opponent could no longer keep up. Still, Alcaraz refused to give up the fight prematurely. "Then I would have felt sorry for myself. I was in the semifinals of a grand slam. I gave myself such a 1% chance in that fourth set, but didn't want to give up,' said a combative Alcaraz who learned a lot from this duel. 'I have never felt so bad on the court as I did today. It was really hard for me. But things like this happen. I have to learn to deal with this and learn my lessons from this race. It shouldn't happen again."
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