Sinner says Alcaraz rivalry 'exciting' for tennis

football07 June 2024 18:04| © AFP
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Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz © Gallo Images

Jannik Sinner said his burgeoning rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz is "exciting" for tennis after losing in five sets to the Spaniard in the Roland Garros semifinals on Friday.

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The 22-year-old, who will become Italy's first world No 1 next week, led by two sets to one before eventually succumbing after over four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier, losing 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Alcaraz now leads the pair's head-to-head record 5-4 and will be favourite to win his third major title when he faces Alexander Zverev or Casper Ruud in Sunday's final.

Sinner and Alcaraz had the youngest combined age of two players in a men's Roland Garros semifinal since Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in 2008.

"If we watch the results, we always or most likely when we play... in the semis or final or quarters," said Sinner, whose last five meetings with Alcaraz have come in semifinals.

"Very important matches. I think that's exciting for the game, especially when head-to-head is quite close.

"And the winner is happy and then the loser tries to find a way to beat him the next time, no? I think that's exciting. That's what I will try to do."

Alcaraz had won their previous Grand Slam meeting in a five-set thriller in the 2022 US Open quarterfinals en route to the title.

Although Friday's match did not quite scale those heights, it was still a gripping contest in which momentum swung back and forth.

Sinner said he was already looking ahead to taking on the 21-year-old Spaniard again.

"Next time obviously is going to be different," he added.

"Let's see on what surface we play on. Also, that's very important. Best-of-three or best-of-five is also different. You know, Grand Slam, there is a different approach.

"But I think it's exciting, and I'm looking forward for hopefully some more."

It was only Sinner's third defeat of the year so far and his first at a Grand Slam this season after winning the Australian Open.

He had been hampered by a hip injury in the build-up to Roland Garros – withdrawing from the Madrid Open before the quarterfinals and then pulling out of his home event in Rome.

"I feel a little bit, especially after two-and-a-half hours and until the four hours, but this is no excuse.

"I was moving good. I was feeling quite good on the court. So I'm not anymore worried about the hip."

Next in Sinner's sights is the grass-court season, when he'll be hoping to build on the success of last year when he reached his maiden Slam semifinal at Wimbledon before losing to Djokovic.

"Last year I had a great Wimbledon, so let's see what I can do this year," he said. "I'm happy to come back and, yeah, and then we see how it goes."