It was right there for Carlos Alcaraz if he wanted it – he was set up as an overhead he just had to just put away.
Facing the press after cramps ruined his French Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic, the young Spaniard had every right to feel salty.
A reporter from his homeland sensed an opportunity to act out the drama.
He questioned the 20-year-old about the “long” toilet break Djokovic took after Alcaraz equalized to win the second set.
He also asked Alcaraz how the Serbian veteran celebrated in the third and fourth sets – “shaking his fists and screaming” – as he feasted on a wounded opponent.
The reporter clearly wanted Alcaraz to lash out at Djokovic, who made it to the final against Kasper Ruud, where he has a shot at a record 23rd Grand Slam title.
But Alcaraz said that there is no mas.
“Many people may want to cause controversy and claim that Novak went to the toilet to stop the game or break the rhythm, but no, not in my case,” he said.
“I don’t believe it made a difference. The stress of the first game of the match carried over into the second set and the physical demands that Novak made on me showed up. In the end, I couldn’t resist physically.
As for your second question, I don’t blame him for anything. He had to close the match. It is difficult to play against someone who is not 100 percent.
“While they may have a slump, you cannot afford such a slump and instead must find a way to close the match.
“Clenching your fists helps maintain intensity and allows you to end the match as quickly as possible. I don’t blame Djokovic for that.
“The truth is, if I ran into someone who was injured or not playing at their best and I had a slump, I would probably do the same. Closing out a match is never easy.”
Serbian reporter Sasha Ozmo described Alcaraz’s response as “pure class”.
It went viral on Reddit, where tennis fans cheered the youth’s maturity.
“I love him so much, such a wonderful, modest child. Impossible not to root for him,” wrote one of them.
“He’s a good guy with a great attitude and character and he’s going to win so many Grand Slams and that makes me happy,” added another.
“Gorgeous from Alcaraz. Today he conquered me as a fan because he did not look for excuses. I liked how honest he was in his problems and speeches, and now I have no doubt that he will reach the greatest heights of his career,” wrote third.
Alcaraz admitted that the tension he felt facing the Serb for the first time in a Grand Slam match caused a spasm in his body that dashed his hopes for the semi-finals.
“Novak is a legend in our sport,” Alcaraz said. “If someone says that he enters the court without nerves, playing against Novak, he is lying.
“Of course, playing in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam tournament, you have a lot of nerves, but even more in front of Novak. This is true.”
Djokovic also gave a strong response in his own press conference.
Asked about the booing of the crowd as he started waving his fists as victory approached, he said, “I don’t mind. This is not the first time, probably not the last. I’ll just keep winning.”
– with AFP
Originally published as Carlos Alcars rejects Novak Djokovic’s dirty question after French semi-final