Alcaraz and Sinner, two friends who try to mark an era in tennis

PARIS.- They are the two tennis players called to dominate the circuit in the coming years and they are also united by a friendship: Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner They meet on Friday in the Roland Garros semifinals.

Will their duels be a tennis 'Classic' as those of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer were in the recent past? Perhaps it is premature to pass judgment on the matter, with the Spaniard being 21 years old and the Italian close to 23, but the truth is that for now all the ingredients seem to be gathered for the banquet of the next decade.

On December 23, Carlos Alcaraz was honored at the Ferrero Tennis Academy in Villena, in Alicante (eastern Spain). The name was given to one of the courts of the complex that was promoted in the place by the former Roland Garros champion in 2003 Juan Carlos Ferrero, mentor and coach of the young man from Murcia.

Sinner was present at the event. He was there with his friend Alcaraz, training for the new season at those facilities.

They are both united by a friendship that dates back to their youth, when their paths crossed very early on.

In a Challenger tournament precisely in Alicante, in April 2019, a young Alcaraz started at 15 years old and had to initially face Sinner, two years older and who had already made a name for himself among the great promises. Without complexes, the Spaniard took that fight 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3.

In the professional circuit, from 2021 to 2024, Alcaraz and Sinner faced each other eight times, with four wins for each one. On clay it was only once, in the final in Umag (Croatia) in 2022, with victory for the Italian.

The last of their duels took place in March in the semifinals of Indian Wells and the victory went to Alcaraz, who later became champion of the tournament.

“I always find it fun to play with Carlos. We are good friends off the court. On it, we both give ourselves 100%. Our attitude on the court is very good and our matches are usually very good,” said Sinner before that match in the United States, which they ended up losing.

After winning on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of this Roland Garros, Alcaraz was already thinking about that reunion with his friend Sinner, the first time that both crossed paths at the great event in Paris.

“I'm grateful to have Jannik on the circuit because he makes me a better player,” said the Spaniard about his next match in Paris. “When the draw came out, everyone wanted that semifinal between Jannik and me. I'm looking forward to playing against him and for the face-to-face to be positive. Playing against him is one of the biggest challenges in tennis now,” he added. .

History so far:

Although Sinner is almost two years older, Alcaraz has been more precocious and won his first Grand Slam (United States Open) and was number 1 in 2022. Then he managed to win another 'big' one, Wimbledon in 2023.

In the case of Sinner, 2024 is the year of his great emergence: he won his first Grand Slam at the beginning of the course in Australia and will leave this Roland Garros as number 1 in the ATP ranking, for the first time in his career, something that is secured after Novak Djokovic's withdrawal due to injury before the quarterfinals.

If the sportsmanship of the great Nadal-Federer duels marked an era, Alcaraz and Sinner also usually dedicate messages of affection and admiration to each other.

“I'm very happy for you, Jannik. You deserve it more than anyone! Enjoy this moment, friend,” Alcaraz wrote on Instagram after Sinner won the Australian Open at the end of January.

Now the Murcian, current world number 3, is the last obstacle that separates Sinner from a new Grand Slam final, to which the German Alexander Zverev (4th) or the Norwegian Casper Ruud (7th) will also aspire on Friday, the protagonists of the other semifinal in Paris.