Novak Djokovic closed in on a potential blockbuster French Open semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday as Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka outrightly condemned her country’s role in the Ukraine war after reaching the last four at Roland Garros.
Djokovic, chasing a third French Open crown and record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title, recovered from dropping his first set of the tournament to defeat 11th seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2, 6-4.
The 36-year-old Serb is in his 12th Roland Garros semi-final — his 45th at the majors — and will take on world number one Alcaraz or 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in Sunday’s final.
After falling behind for the first time this fortnight, Djokovic dominated the second-set tie-break and then broke Khachanov to begin the third set after a favourable bounce off the net to take control.
“It was probably the turning point of the match. Winning the second set or losing the second set would be quite a big difference,” said Djokovic.
“I managed to have a perfect couple of minutes of tennis and turned things around, and then just the energy of the court shifted to my side.”
Djokovic hit 19 winners and just one unforced error in the third set, conceding a solitary point on his serve before breaking the Russian again for good measure.
He briefly let slip a 4-2 lead in the fourth set but immediately broke back and secured a ninth win in 10 tries against Khachanov with an ace on match point.
In the night session, tournament favourite Alcaraz goes up against Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in his stiffest challenge so far.
The Spaniard has won all four past meetings — two of which have been on clay, most recently triumphing in the Barcelona Open final in April.
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