Novak Djokovic Moves to the Precipice of Tennis Supremacy

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Alcaraz said of the cramps after the match. “The main thing, it was the tension.”

Djokovic said he could easily relate to what Alcaraz had experienced. Early in his career, in the late rounds of the biggest tournaments, sometimes with championships on the line, his body failed him, for no other reason than the stress of what was unfolding around him.

“It’s a part of the learning curve,” he said.

Alcaraz said he had felt cramps before, but nothing like this. His right arm tightened in the first set, and by the third set the cramps had spread throughout his body. He knew exactly why.

“If someone says that he gets into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies,” Alcaraz said. “Playing a semifinal of a Grand Slam, you have a lot of nerves, but even more with facing Novak.” The next time he plays Djokovic might be different, he said, “but the nerves will be there.”

For more than two hours, it had looked as though it might be the match for the ages. Djokovic played nearly perfectly in the first set, only for Alcaraz to showcase his power and his magical shotmaking in the next one.

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