It’s time to break the most meaty deadlock in tennis today: World number one Novak Djokovic and world number two Carlos Alcaraz will clash in the semifinals of the ATP Tour’s year-end pinnacle.
The Djokovic vs Alcaraz H2H stands all square at 2 apiece. When last they met, Djokovic squeezed out a 3-set masterpiece to win the 2023 Cincinnati Masters. Before that, Alcaraz made off with the 2023 Wimbledon crown in a 5-set barnburner. This ATP Finals meeting in the knockout round of the tournament will be the 24-time Grand Slam champion’s latest chance to say “not yet, my friend” to the 20-year-old Alcaraz.
Djokovic vs Alcaraz Preview By the Numbers
Of their 4 previous meetings, only this year’s match at Roland Garros failed to go the distance, due in part to Alcaraz cramping after winning the first set. Cramping is controversial, with some claiming it relates to either poor preparation, inadequate hydration or mismanagement of nerves. Whatever the case, Djokovic happens to excel in all aspects of preparation and management.
Last year in 2022, Alcaraz eked out a win over Djokovic in the semifinals of Madrid. In these three excruciatingly close meetings, each match has come down to mere points. Alcaraz won 3 more points than Djokovic in that Madrid match. At Wimbledon, it was 2. In the Cincy match, Djokovic bested Alcaraz by a paltry 5 points. These guys are that close in level.
Their 4 matches so far have featured 5 tiebreakers and 3 sets with a score of 7-5. That’s 8 sets that could have gone either way. Djokovic leads tiebreakers played against Alcaraz 3-2, but Alcaraz has won all 7-5 sets.
In the past year, Djokovic has been a better server, according to the ATP’s metrics. Alcaraz has been the superior returner. It must be said: The Serbian superstar won 3 Grand Slams this year, while the Spanish sensation won 1.
Djokovic vs Alcaraz Tactics
This will be the first meeting of Djokovic and Alcaraz indoors. It’s also the fastest hardcourt on which the two have ever played, officially anyway. The titans of tennis are known to spar in practice occasionally.
Even though winning the crucial 0-4 metric still applies in this match, the defensive skills of both players often leads to a ballooning of the middle 5-8 shot metric. Djokovic might look to heighten the aggression early in points to see what kind of errors he can get out of Alcaraz in these conditions.
Carlitos is the better slider, even on hard courts, but Djokovic is more flexible and agile. Both players own every shot in the bag. As always Novak will have to be on high alert for the Alcaraz drop shot, which the Spaniard has employed this week. But it won’t work as well as it did with his win over Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic actually feels comfortable at the net.
Djokovic might look to punish Alcaraz’s subpar first serve if not with pace then with depth. Conversely, the GOAT will need to be thoughtful about his second own serves because Alcaraz can blister returns routinely in excess of 80 mph.
For Alcaraz, keep in mind Djokovic has similar ground stroke speeds on both wings, but it’s the depth and the angles that are merciless. Getting into extended baseline rallies point after point is not an advisable tactic. As for where best to serve to Novak? Nobody knows.
This ATP Finals Djokovic vs Alcaraz tilt should live up to all the fuss and festivity, producing a satisfying ending to the tennis year.