Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic to Meet in French Open Semifinals

“The energy of the court shifted to my side,” Djokovic said after dispatching Khachanov.

But when Djokovic faces Alcaraz, who has taken the No. 1 ranking from him twice in the past nine months, it will be a test against youth unlike anything Djokovic has faced before. The two have played only once, in May 2022, in Madrid; Djokovic and Alcaraz kept missing each other for one reason or another in the 13 months since.

“A complete player,” Lorenzo Musetti, 21, of Italy, an Alcaraz victim this week in the fourth round, said of the player he came to know on Europe’s junior circuit.

Singular moments when one generation takes over from another can feel like the shifting of tectonic plates. Every so often, men’s tennis delivers a torch-passing match: Pete Sampras tearing through John McEnroe at the 1990 U.S. Open; Roger Federer beating Sampras on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 2001. Is another one at hand?

Daniil Medvedev, the world’s second-ranked player, and the only player currently in his 20s to beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam final, said not long ago that it is nearly impossible to beat Djokovic until you have first lost to him several times. Opponents need to get used to his shot patterns and his relentless ability to make them hit one more ball after they think they have ended the point.

Not so for Alcaraz. Alcaraz beat Djokovic in their lone meeting, in a deciding-set tiebreaker no less (albeit in a best-of-three-sets match). So far Alcaraz has exhibited none of the fragility displayed against Djokovic in big moments by his contemporaries, or even the players a few years older than he is who were supposed to be the next generation of tennis stars.

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