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History Alert: Djokovic vs Alcaraz

Here we are, the match up we all wanted. Novak Djokovic will play Carlos Alcaraz in the Semi Finals of the French Open 2023 at Roland Garros. Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time in our opinion, and 20 year old Carlos Alcaraz appears to be the Heir apparent and greatest threat longterm to that crown. What happens head-to-head in the overlap of their careers could really have a great impact if Carlos Alcarz lives up to the pedigree.

Despite being 36 years old Novak Djokovic is far from washed up. He is still the best player on the planet, and very likely would be #1 if he had been allowed to play in the US Open and Masters events in the US. His absence has allowed Carlos Alcaraz to become the youngest #1 tennis player ever, but he isn’t undeserving. He’s won the US Open at 19 years old and beat Djokovic head to head in their only matchup ever (Madrid Open/Masters event). It was a highly competitive 3 set match as well. Djokovic missed the US Open Alcaraz won, while Alcaraz then missed the Australian Open Djokovic won.

We detail Alcaraz’s impressive ascent here.

Finally, we will get the showdown we’ve been waiting for the last 6 months in a Grand Slam event.

Unfortunately, this isn’t in the Finals. You can thank the ridiculous draw for that. We’ve written about how inherently stupid tennis draws typically are in the past.

The reward for being #1 is you get to play the #3 sometimes the way these morons draw it up, while #2 gets to draw #4. That makes no sense to me. In the Big 3 era where the 3 best players ever were nearly always in the semi-finals being #2 was rewarded. That’s not even the only aspect of the stupidity of the draws, where in the first round sometimes the #1 seed has to play players ranked as high as 33rd in the world while two wild cards get each other. It’s so stupid.

The Showdown

It’s incredibly obvious these are the 2 best players in the world right now, and while this isn’t the finals as it should be, it will be historic. The trajectory of both players will be going in opposite directions over the next few years. While I still would expect Djokovic to be a top 3 player for the next 3 years, this is probably a bigger match for him since he is 0-1 vs Alcaraz. You know he wants to get on the board, and this may be his best chance to beat him. While we expect him to have 3 to 5 more years, you never know how father time comes calling, or simply Alcaraz could hit another gear making it impossible. It’s also a great and rare opportunity to win the French Open he would like to take advantage of and get number 3 in the books while Rafael Nadal is out. Nadal could be back and the favorite again next year or Alcaraz hitting that gear, on what might be his best surface, making this a potentially rare opportunity.

Djokovic could become the first man to win all 4 Grand Slams 3+ times each if he can get past Alcaraz and win the French Open. This is really bigger for Djokovic and tennis. What tennis really needs is a 2 or 3 year burning competitive rivalry between the two before Djokovic is gone. That’s the hand off to the next generation of tennis that needs to happen. Alcaraz needs to eventually take it from him as well.

No one knows how many of these matches we will get, so enjoy it.

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