PARIS (AP) — Almost everyone is looking forward to, and really wanting to see, Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic face off in the semifinals of the French Open. There is still a long way to go, and both began their journey on Monday at Roland Garros with straight-set victories against opponents baptized in Grand Slams.
Everything points to a debut without major shocks for the two favorites for the title to take the pulse of the tournament on clay. And so it did, except for brief hiccups for both in the end.
Djokovic, the 22-time champion, first went on the Philippe Chatrier Stadium track to face Alexander Kovacevic, a 24-year-old American from New York who started the week ranked 114.
The third seed served for a 5–4 lead in the third set, but was broken. To no one’s surprise, he made a quick comeback and won 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(1).
Djokovic said, ‘He worked harder to win than me.
“I played very well and was in control for two and a half sets, then he broke my serve and things got complicated for me,” said the 36-year-old Serb. Slam titles and that he currently shares with 14-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal, who was unable to perform due to a hip injury. “But I knew how to control my nerves and the tiebreaker was almost perfect.”
Alcaraz entered the scene later, with the poster of the champion of the United States Open and the first ranking, to play at Suzanne Lenglen Stadium, Flavio Cobboli, a 21-year-old Italian from Florence, who appears as 159th. , in the world to participate.
Alcaraz had three points in the third to seal the game with a 5–3 advantage, but he didn’t know how to take advantage of them and after a while he found the score tied at 5–5. To no one’s surprise, he settled things quickly and won 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
“In the third set I was in a bit of trouble,” said the Spanish prodigy. “I thought I would have won easier than I could have, but one game can change every game. But yes, at the start of the match, I was feeling invincible.”
Before the tournament, Djokovic pointed to Alcaraz as the logical candidate to lift the champion’s trophy, given his stellar record on clay this season: 21-2, with three titles.
It is difficult to refute it.
Djokovic, on the other hand, also highlighted that he likes the five-set format in sets and recalled that he leads the title count 22-1.
In the next round, Alcaraz will face Japanese Taro Daniel and Djokovic will face Hungary’s Marton Fukovic.
Schwartzman breaks bad streak
On the verge of exiting the top 100 in the rankings and mired in a five-game losing streak, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman overcame Spain’s Bernabé Zapata (seeded 32nd) in a five-set battle to defeat him 1-6, 6. Made a great comeback. -7(5), 6-2, 6-0, 6-4.
Schwartzman became the world number eight in 2020, the year he reached the semifinals of Roland Garros, held in the fall. But its ranking has declined since the last few months.
“I don’t want to play by inertia,” said Schwartzman, who will next face Portugal’s Nuno Borges. “I have been in the top 20 for many years and now it is not easy to accept this position… I am not a child anymore, I am 31 years old and if this continues for one more season, I feel It’s hard to catch up mentally,” Diego Schwartzman said firmly. Joe would like to continue his winning streak at Roland Garros 2023 against Portuguese Nuno Borges.
Colombian Camila Osorio was at the mercy of a withdrawal from the main draw, after losing in the final round of the qualifying round and failing to win the ‘lucky loser’ draw. This is what happened when Cathy McNealy had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
Osorio defeated Romania’s Ana Bogdan 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to enter the second round.
An injury at the start of the year saw the 21-year-old Colombian fall out of the top 100 of the rankings, earning her a direct entry into Roland Garros. But she came under fire after reaching the round of 16 at the Italian Open, where she ousted seeds Caroline Garcia and Petra Martic.
“I started crying with so much happiness,” Osorio informed Sunday that he could finally play the tournament. “It was a roller coaster, it’s like a miracle. Now that I’m here, I’m grateful. I believe in God, so it’s like a miracle to me.”
For a place in the third round in Paris, Osorio will face Belgian Elise Mertens (seeded 28th).
“I’m very happy with how I’m playing and how I’m managing all these situations,” Osorio said.