Novak Djokovic has played in the most anticipated French Open match that wasn't the final before.
Djokovic faces top seed Carlos Alcaraz in Friday's semifinals on Tennis Channel at 8:45 a.m. At 11 a.m. ET, Peacock and NBCSports.com/live begin coverage.
At Roland Garros, Djokovic has often faced another Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, whom he grew up playing. Djokovic and Nadal played 10 times in the French Open, seven before the final.
Different conditions. Intergenerational, not intragenerational. Djokovic, 36, and Alcaraz, 20, have only played once. Last spring in Madrid, Alcaraz won 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) on quicker clay.
Alcaraz was not a top-five player yet. At the U.S. Open last September, he became the youngest man to win a major since Nadal's first of 14 French Open victories in 2005 and the world's No. 1 adolescent.
That makes it different from torch-passing matchups like Roger Federer defeating Pete Sampras in the fourth round of 2001 Wimbledon, two years before Federer won his first of 20 majors.
Or 19-year-old Sampras defeating Ivan Lendl to win the 1990 U.S. Open seven months after his last major. Djokovic and Alcaraz's future Grand Slams are unknown.
The 1991 U.S. Open (Jim Courier vs. Jimmy Connors) has the biggest age gap in a men's Grand Slam semifinal. Stakes are high.
Djokovic knows. He may break his tie with Nadal for the men's record with a 23rd Grand Slam singles triumph. He can win all four majors three times.
Alcaraz may never get another chance to play one of The Big Three at a major. Sampras and Federer's legends were launched by defeating previous generation leaders on the largest platform.
If Alcaraz becomes as big as many expect, tennis would lose if he never played Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic at a major.
Alcaraz remarked Tuesday that everyone expected the semifinal versus Novak when the draw came out. I too. I want that match.”