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Novak Djokovic nears Carlos Alcaraz French Open semi-final clash

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Novak Djokovic closed in on a potential blockbuster French Open semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz after beating Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the last four.

Novak Djokovic, chasing a third French Open crown and record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title, advanced to a 45th major semi-final and his 12th at Roland Garros.

He will take on world number one Alcaraz or Stefanos Tsitsipas, the player he beat from two sets down in the 2021 final, for a place in Sunday’s championship match.

Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament but dominated the second-set tie-break against Khachanov before putting his foot down to secure a ninth win in 10 meetings with the Russian 11th seed.

“I think he was a better player for most of the first two sets,” said Djokovic.

“I was struggling to find my rhythm. I came into the match quite slow but played a perfect tie-break and from that moment onwards played a couple levels higher.

“It’s a big fight, something you expect in the quarter-finals. You’re not going to have your victories handed to you, you have to earn them.”

Novak Djokovic improved his record at Roland Garros to 90-16 after denying Khachanov his spot in a third successive Grand Slam semi-final. He will return to number one if he wins the title in Paris.

In the night session, tournament favourite Carlos Alcaraz goes up against Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in his stiffest challenge so far.

Carlos Alcaraz has won all four past meetings — two of which have been on clay, most recently triumphing in the Barcelona Open final in April.

“We have played great matches. I won every match that we have played. But it doesn’t mean that I’m going to win every match that we play,” said Alcaraz.

Tsitsipas also reached this year’s Australian Open final, losing to Novak Djokovic, and has been steady rather than spectacular in 2023.

He is yet to win a title this season but has made serene progress through the draw in Paris, dropping just the one set in his opening round.

“Right now he’s one of the biggest obstacles and challenges for any player to compete against,” Tsitsipas said of Carlos Alcaraz. “Rivalries like this, they are the toughest thing you can get in our sport.”

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