Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday May 31, 2024


If you needed a reminder of why men's tennis is in good hands, you got it on Friday in Paris.

Photo Source: Getty

Paris – The two rising forces of men’s tennis captivated fans on Court Phillipe-Chatrier on Friday, ushering in the weekend in Paris with a preview of what men’s tennis might look like over the next decade.

If you’re scoring at home: it looks amazing.

Tennis Express

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, who could meet in the semifinals next week in Paris, both held court and wowed fans with their unique brand of tennis excellence. What’s so compelling about the two rivals? Their similarities – and their differences.

All of it was on display on Friday, as Sinner methodically moved past Russia’s Pavel Kotov with a clinical performance, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, and Alcaraz stopped Sebastian Korda, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3. Sinner was first to take to the fabled clay of the sports’ biggest clay court. The Italian is so smooth, so contained, so efficient! An underrated mover and on the clay, sinner’s exquisite footwork anchored by his sliding and his balance. The 22-year-old doesn’t have to defend the court very often, because of his aggressive game style, but when he does he’s surprisingly effective for his size.

Sinner was dominant in all phases against Kotov, and not just technically and tactically, but also mentally, and emotionally. He’s a picture of concentration and focus, a player that is positive but also somewhat restrained. He keeps a tight lid on his emotions, electing to save energy instead of wasting it unnecessarily when it isn’t needed.

It’s probably why he doesn’t get as much hype as Alcaraz, but it doesn’t make him any less remarkable to the nuanced fan. He had Kotov on the ropes from the third game of the opening set, so why bother making the match any more interesting than it needed to be? No reason. Instead Sinner locks into his game plan and executes. He’s like a pitcher with a 100 MPH gas and a plus slider. He just has to hit his marks and things will fall into place.

It’s the same in many ways for Alcaraz, who faced a much bigger challenge in Sebastian Korda in the night session, and came through with relative ease.

But his stuff is a little more electric, if more wild. The second set of Alcaraz’s fifth career meeting with Korda was a dogfight that came down to a few points in the second-set tiebreak, and once the Spaniard had them in his pocket the contest was all but over.

Impressive for Alcaraz to have made such light work of one of the most talented under-25 players on the ATP Tour. The pair put on a veritable clinic in the second set, and Alcaraz finally took the cover off his forehand and let it loose. It was a reminder of how electric the 21-year-old can be when he is off the leash.

The fans inside Chatrier, under that grand roof, were lapping it up.

Alcaraz is different from Sinner in his philosophical approach to the sport. He’s so fiery, he needs to feel the crowd and take them with him on his quest. He doesn’t simmer, he boils, and sometimes it leads him into more chaotic moments on the court. Fortunately for him – and for the paying customers – the two-time Slam champion has the tools to get out of trouble. He has wings! He can fly! He improvises like a jazz cat, finds the downbeat and clicks out the equivalent of a bass solo right there in the middle of points.

Watching Carlos Alcaraz cat-and-mouse around Chatrier for the next ten years? Don’t mind if we do.

Alcaraz and Sinner are different, but they are also the same in one important way: they are a cut above their peers. They have weapons that the others don’t. When the tennis gets intense, and the shotmaking is furious, they make things happen on their terms and their opponents spectate. It could be a perfectly placed drop shot. It could be a backhand down the line. A soaring crosscourt lob that eludes an opponent’s racquet. A series of forehands, each one hotter than the last.

There are many ways that they can beat you…

On Friday fans got a glimpse of the future of men’s tennis yet again. It was everything, and more.

Even better, Alcaraz (forearm) and Sinner (hip) seem to have cleared the injury hurdles that made them question marks when the draw was made last week in Paris. Three rounds into this year’s French Open, those question marks are turning into exclamation marks. Who would bet against another Sinner Alcaraz battle in the semis now?


Latest News