John McEnroe is “salivating” over the blockbuster clash between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals on Friday. The US Open champion Alcaraz is seeking his second Major title at the age of 20.
And Wimbledon winner Djokovic, 36, is one wins away from overtaking his rival Rafa Nadal to set a male record of 23 Grand Slam singles titles. The dynamic duo have claimed the last three Majors – and the winner of this generational clash will be the red-hot favourite for Sunday’s final.
Djokovic, who missed New York after refusing to get vaccinated, is on a 19-match unbeaten run in Grand Slams stretching back to his quarter-final defeat to Nadal here last year. Alcaraz pulled out of Melbourne with a thigh injury and is now on 12-match Major winning streak. Something will have to give when the two collide today.
BBC analyst McEnroe said: “Boris Becker was the best player I ever saw at 17 or 18 when he won his first two Wimbledons. This guy Alcaraz, he’s just turned 20. He’s the most complete player I’ve ever seen at this age, more than the other guys.
“You’d be hard-pressed to think he’s not going to win many, many Majors. And he’s also just got this incredible personality. So you’ve got the old guy Djokovic, but he plays young. He’s going for history. He’s trying to break the record, which is insane.
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“I am salivating over this match-up, to see who’s going to handle the pressure. The crowd is going to be nuts, as they often are in France, they are very emotional. I can’t wait because this thing is going to be unbelievable.”
Alcaraz will also guarantee staying at world No 1 by winning their clash. Remarkably, the pair have only played once before, in Madrid last year when the Spaniard triumphed 6-7 7-5 7-6 in three hours and 38 minutes. “We hope that this rivalry goes on for a couple of years,” added McEnroe.
“Novak’s 36, but he looks like he’s 26 and Alcaraz is 20 and he plays like he’s been around forever. So this is what we all hope for in the tennis world. It’s hard to pick a winner.
“I picked out Alcaraz and gave him a slight edge before the tournament and obviously Novak would be the second choice. They’re both getting it done in different ways. It is going to be unbelievable. I’m hoping for an epic one. I really think it will be great for tennis.”
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Djokovic compared Alcaraz to 14-time champion Nadal. “He carries himself very well,” said the Serbian superstar. “No doubt very nice guy on and off the court. Brings a lot of intensity on the court. Reminds me of someone from his country that plays with a left hand!”
Alexander Zverev will face last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud in the second semi a year after rupturing his ankle ligaments against Nadal and leaving the court in a wheelchair. “I don’t think about it anymore,” said the German. I’m going on court to win tennis matches.”
But Holger Rune, who lost to Ruud in the quarter-final, said: “I’ll probably say Casper is the favourite for the semi-final.”
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