Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka powers a forehand return during her quarter-final match against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. Image Credit: REUTERS

Paris: Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will square off in a blockbuster French Open semi-final as Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka also reached 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.

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.

Big difference

“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.

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his quarter-final match against Russia's Karen Khachanov. Image Credit: Reuters

Stiffest challenge

Alcaraz once more showed why he is the favourite with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in the night session, easily navigating his stiffest challenge to date.

The 20-year-old Spaniard has won all five meetings with Tsitsipas and becomes the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007.

The top seed broke early in the third set but failed to serve it out at 5-3 as Tsitsipas offered some belated resistance, saving five match points before ultimately going down in the tie-break.

Surprise run ends

Sabalenka ended Elina Svitolina’s surprise run in the highest-profile match between two players.

Sabalenka won a politically-charged match 6-4, 6-4 to extend her Grand Slam winning streak to 12 matches following her first major title at the Australian Open in January.

Svitolina was booed by the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier after refusing to shake hands, a common practice now in the sport when a Ukrainian player meets a Russian or Belarusian opponent.

Svitolina, playing her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother, has lost all four of her quarter-final appearances in Paris.

Fine show

Sabalenka has now reached the last four at each of the Grand Slams and will face 43rd-ranked Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in Saturday’s final.

The unseeded Muchova matched her best run at a major by knocking out 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the first time.

The 26-year-old Czech also made the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2021.