There have been more important matches for Alcaraz technically as the US Open final still probably takes the cake in that regard. However, this was a major showdown against a direct rival, a match many believed would decide the eventual winner of the 2023 Roland Garros. It didn't go well for Alcaraz as cramps cost him severely in this one.
It rendered his generally sublime movement useless which allowed Djokovic to comfortably bring the match to the finish line. It's a shame for all involved as many were excited about the 'match of the year' however these things happen.
Well, I would say the first set and the second set was really, really intense, you know, and I started to cramp, you know, in my arm. At the beginning of the third set I started to cramp every part of my body, not only the legs. The arms, as well, every part of the legs.
Not being able to move the way you want is tough to overcome on any surface let alone on clay where it's the most important thing. It was a very tense match which was confirmed by Alcaraz who did start unusually nervous in the match. All that tensions contributed to him cramping up and it's just something that happens. He'll learn from it and be better next time.
Yeah, the tension. The tension of the match. You know, I started the match really nervous. The tension of, you know, the first set, the second set, it was really intense two sets, as well. I take lesson from that match, you know. I will try to not happen again, you know, in these matches.
Cramps are nothing new for Alcaraz as he dealt with it in the past though never to this extent. He referenced one of his early big wins which happened in 2021 at the US Open. He beat Tsitsipas in 5 sets in a match that also saw him deal with cramping.
You know, I can give you an example. You know, against Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2021 in the US Open, I got cramps, but not this magnitude. I learned from that match, from that experience, and I will do the same in this match.
When asked whether nerves of playing against the 22-time Grand Slam champion played a role in his cramping, the 20-year-old admitted that anyone who says otherwise is probably lying.
"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. Of course playing a semifinal 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."