The Rolex Paris Masters dream final is not on as Carlos Alcaraz picked up an injury whilst playing fellow teenager Holger Rune and retired with an abdominal injury while defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised unhindered past Lorenzo Musetti into the semi-finals at Bercy.
I cannot stretch. I couldn’t serve well. I couldn’t hit the forehand well. When I turn the body, I feel it. I feel the abdomen in so many movements Carlos Alcaraz
Alcaraz, the reigning US Open champion and world No.1, lost the first set and was trailing 3-1 in a second set tie-break when he decided to throw in the towel having received treatment to his left side at their last changeover.
“It’s something wrong on the abdominal,” Alcaraz revealed later having been foiled by circumstances to win his third Masters title of the season. “At the end of the set, it was wrong. It was getting wrong and I preferred to retire and take care about it.”
The big question is whether he will now be fit enough to participate in the ATP Finals when it kicks off in Turin on November 13 considering he had arrived in Paris with a knee injury which he had dismissed earlier in the week.
“Right now I have some test on how it’s gonna be before Turin, but right now I’m focused to try to get better in the abdominal and trying to be at 100 per cent in Turin,” the 19=year-old continued.
“I cannot stretch. I couldn’t serve well. I couldn’t hit the forehand well. When I turn the body, I feel it. I feel the abdomen in so many movements.”
“It’s in a zone that I have problems, I have problems before,” he added. “Let’s see if it’s the same problem as I felt before or not.”
Rune, who has now won 17 of his last 19 matches, was sympathetic, saying: “I thought it was a great match. Unlucky for him. I think we both played very well and I was super focused. It was an amazing crowd, amazing tennis, so I’m super pleased with how I handled everything today.”
Alcaraz would have been confirmed as the year-end world number one before the ATP Finals in Turin later this month, had he gone on to lift the trophy on Sunday which now looks destined to be picked up for a seventh time by Djokovic.
Following his opponent’s retirement, the similarly aged Dane, Rune will face Felix Auger Aliassime in the semis after the in-form 8th seed comfortably dispatched Frances Tiafoe, the 16th seeded American, 6-1 6-4 where he hopes to avenge his loss to the Canadian in last week’s final in Basel.
With his latest win the Montrealer remains unbeaten in his last 16 matches in a run which has seen him pick up three consecutive titles in as many weeks with the win secured on his sixth match point.
“I feel better and better,” a smiling Auger-Aliassime said. “I heard Novak saying yesterday that you can always improve, and he’s won how many Grand Slam? So I can definitely improve a lot more in future. Of course, right now, I’m playing well and feeling good, but I see things that I can still do better and still improve on to be able to top the game.
“Sixteen wins in a row is special. I have an opportunity to win again tomorrow. I’ll try to seize it, but definitely it’s been an amazing period.”
Meanwhile in the bottom half of the draw, Djokovic charged into the last four with a 6-0 6-3 demolition of the 20-year-old Italian Musetti, last week’s Naples champion who could only manage eight points in the 24-minute first set.
However, the 21-time Grand Slam champion dropped serve early in the second set but swiftly recovered with successive breaks to cruse into the semis with his 12th overall match win where he will face the fifth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas who also had a comfortable quarter final win, dispatching Tommy Paul of the US, 6-2 6-4.
“No one is unbeatable, but I’ve had plenty of success on this court and I think every single year that I come back, the confidence level is higher,” a confident Djokovic said. “I just like the conditions, even though they are different from last year. I think I adjusted very well. Right from the start I was really playing my best tennis in the first match and I (have) continued doing that. Hopefully I will not derail myself and will keep going in the same direction.”
The Greek is also in confident mood, declaring following his win: “I need to show the same consistency. I have weapons that I can use. But in the past, I feel I have used too much spin or power. It’s important that I stay at a medium level and not overdo it. It will be a physical match and I will need to move well.”
The stats though are against him as Djokovic has won 10 of their 12 previous meetings and is on a run of seven consecutive wins against the Greek star.