Novak Djokovic moved to within one victory of his record 23rd Grand Slam title on Friday with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win over top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open in Paris.
Djokovic, the tournament's third seed and a two-time winner of the event, split the first two sets before Alcaraz dealt with an apparent cramp in his right calf at the start of the third. The 20-year-old Spaniard even conceded his service game at 1-1 in order to rush treatment from the on-court physician on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Alcaraz wasn't the same, however. Djokovic was able to take advantage of a clearly ailing Alcaraz and end the match in 3 hours and 23 minutes.
"I feel for him. I feel sorry. ... I hope he can recover very soon," Djokovic said. "I told him at the net, he knows how young he is. He has plenty of time ahead of him. He's going to win this tournament, I'm sure, many, many times."
Djokovic can regain the No. 1 spot in the world by winning the French Open final on Sunday, which will serve as his 34th Grand Slam final appearance -- tying him with Chris Evert for the most in men's or women's tennis in the Open Era.
The Serbian star will look to snap a tie in major titles with Rafael Nadal when he faces the winner of Friday's match between 22nd-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany and fourth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway.
Djokovic, 36, evened his all-time record at 1-1 against Alcaraz. The latter recorded a three-set win in the semifinals in Madrid in May 2022.
--Field Level Media