French Open fans pick ‘underdog’ with Novak Djokovic to face Carlos Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic will have the backing of the French crowd in his blockbuster semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz because he is the underdog, Mats Wilander has claimed. The 22-time Grand Slam champion accused some fans of being “disrespectful” when he was booed and jeered during his third round win here.

And the young Spanish star is a huge favourite with fans around the world after winning the US Open and getting to world No.1.

And Eurosport expert Wilander said: “Carlos Alcaraz has lit the professional tennis world on fire. People are talking about him more and more. He’s OK with people routing for the other guy as we all just want to see more of Carlitos.

“The crowd are going to be behind Novak Djokovic in the early stages I think. They believe Novak is the one that will need to put up a fight to be honest and he will be able to do that, he will find solutions for sure. Physically Novak is a genius but the speed Carlos has around the court is maybe even a little bit too much for Novak.”

After he sarcastically applauded the crowd for booing him for taking a medical timeout last week, Djokovic described his relationship with the Parisian crowd as “up and down throughout my career”.

He explained: “They gave me a lot of support in the years where I was losing in finals or in the last couple of steps before winning a title. I think the majority of the people come to enjoy tennis or support one or the other player. But they are individuals. There are people that love to boo every single thing you do. That’s something that I find disrespectful and I frankly don’t understand that. But it’s their right. They paid the ticket. They can do whatever they want.”

Alcaraz outclassed world No.5 in straight sets to set up the showdown with 22-Djokovic.

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Wilander added: “Tactically he has been incredible without losing his identity on the tennis court. Sitting watching him live is incredible. He comes from nowhere and smacks the forehand so hard that it’s nearly a lack of respect for the game itself. He’s OK with people routing for the other guy as we all just want to see more of Carlitos.

“I actually can’t believe he said his confidence is very high, that’s incredible. He is playing Novak Djokovic next and is coming out with these words, it’s different playing someone you’ve beaten a few times before but they haven’t played that many times. It’s just incredible. He is superhuman, there is hope for mankind when you see an athlete like Carlos Alcaraz.”

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