Alcaraz injury helps Djokovic into French Open final

French Open 2023

Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 28 May-11 June

Coverage: Live text and radio commentaries of selected matches across BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

Novak Djokovic is one win away from a record 23rd men’s major title after moving into the French Open final by beating Carlos Alcaraz in a contest ruined by an injury to the Spaniard.

With an enthralling match delicately poised at one set each, Alcaraz pulled up early in the third with cramp.

He twice carried on after treatment but Serbia’s Djokovic took full advantage to run away with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 win.

Djokovic, 36, will play Casper Ruud or Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

Norwegian fourth seed Ruud was last year’s beaten finalist, while German 22nd seed Zverev is back in the semi-finals after suffering a serious ankle injury on court at the same stage 12 months ago.

Coincidentally, before Zverev’s return to the last four, this year’s opening semi-final was also cut short by a physical issue – although thankfully top seed Alcaraz’s problem was not of the same gravity as the German’s injury, which kept him out for several months.

But it was enough to spoil an encounter which was blossoming into a classic.

“First and foremost I have to say tough luck to Carlos,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview.

“At this level the last thing you want is cramps and physical problems. I feel for him, I feel sorry, I hope he can recover and come back pretty soon.

“He knows how young he is, he’s got plenty of time ahead of him and he will win this tournament many times.”

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Alcaraz, 20, hit a forehand into the net on Djokovic’s second match point, bowing his head as he trudged to the net, where the third seed waited to embrace his younger opponent.

Djokovic applauded Alcaraz off the court along with the crowd, but only after the two-time champion received some boos as he celebrated reaching another final by pointing to the sky.

The mood turned more celebratory as Djokovic took the post-match microphone, with fans chanting the former world number one’s name.

“It is tough for him not knowing whether to retire or finish the match but congratulations to him for showing fighting spirit and hanging in,” Djokovic added.

“I just tried to stay focused, stay present and not think too much about what was happening on the opposite side of the net.”

More to follow.

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