This meeting was announced as the final before the hour, between Carlos Alcaraz (world number one) and Novak Djokovic (number 3). And the show was there. For two sets only. At the start of the third, the Spaniard stopped short, seized with cramps. The match was then not the same, Carlos Alcaraz could no longer respond to the physical challenge (6/3, 5/7, 6/1, 6/1) imposed by his opponent.
While Novak Djokovic seemed dull after a second set of rare intensity, it was finally the world number one who broke down physically. Cramped, he didn't want to wait for the change of sides to have his thigh massaged, and therefore received a penalty game. He then went to the end of the effort, betting on an energy boost that will not have taken place, Juan Carlos Ferrero's protege managed to register only one game until the end of the part.
Prior to this brutal stoppage, Carlos Alcaraz scored what could be the hit of the tournament, with that unthinkable squash kick that turned into a passing pass winner at the start of the second set, after dropping a drop shot from Djokovic and sprinting towards the back of the court, back to the net.
A year after losing in the quarter-finals, Carlos Alcaraz therefore stops at the gates of the final and could have to give up his place of world number one to his opponent of the day, as early as Monday.
Novak Djokovic, he will seek a 3rd coronation at Roland-Garros and a 23rd in a grand slam, which would make him the most successful tennis player on the men's circuit. In the event of victory, he would equalize Serena Williams and would be only one crowning away from the absolute record, men and women combined, held by Australian Margaret Court (24 trophies in the years 1960-70).
A win on Sunday would make him the first male player to win all four Grand Slams at least three times. Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf have achieved this on the women's side.
For his seventh final on ocher, the Serb will face Casper Ruud (number 4) or Alexander Zverev (27th) on Sunday.