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An important part of every sport’s history is the intense rivalries between two sides. Rivalries that make both elevate their games to the best of their abilities when meeting one another, for spectators to witness the pinnacle of elite athletes.

As an individual sport, tennis has held some of the most iconic rivalries in the modern era. Navratilova v Evert, Borg v McEnroe, Sampras v Agassi, and of course the Big 3, who have kept tennis in more than good hands for almost the last 20 years.

But with Roger Federer recently retiring, Rafael Nadal’s injuries becoming harder to return from each time, and multiple ‘next gen’ players failing to take that proper leap into the pantheon status of the greats, tennis fans and talking heads have been wondering who the torch will officially be passed to going forward.

But with every time Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner meet, the answer may be becoming more and more clear.

Although he’s still only 19, Alcaraz’s greatness is no longer a surprise to anyone, and he is expected to become one of the all-time greats when it’s all said and done. He has already managed to win the US Open, along with three Masters 1000 titles.

Two years older, Sinner has somewhat flown under the radar after bursting onto the scene a few years ago, despite already having won multiple titles and making the quarterfinals of all four Slams last year.

At such young ages, these two seem to be the main protagonists for the future of men’s tennis. While they are sure to both leave brilliant individual legacies, the rivalry they already have may be one they can share as a collective for the years to come.

The two young stars embody the modern game to a tee. They are able to blast the ball from both wings while attacking the net with crisp volleys when needed, and have the athleticism to slide anywhere on the court to turn defence into offence in the blink of an eye. Whenever they are scheduled to face off against each other, it’s almost certain there’ll be multiple mind boggling rallies that end in an out-of-nowhere winner.

Their most recent outing in the semis at Miami was one of the highest-quality best-of-three matches you could see. Sinner was able to send a raging Alcaraz home, who was shooting for the Sunshine Double on a ten-game win streak.

Included in Alcaraz’s streak was a victory over Sinner just over a week earlier on the way to his second consecutive Indian Wells trophy. Despite finishing in straight sets, Sinner put up a good fight and the pair once again produced some mesmerising tennis while pummelling the ball with pace.

It’s the common narrative when these two see each other at either side of the court. Generally, there’s going to be a some very entertaining tennis about to be played. This has also proven to be true at the majors, where the pair have met at Flushing Meadows and the All England Club.

Last September, Alcaraz was en route to his first US Open title having to play three five-setters in a row to make it just to the final. One of these was a quarterfinal against Sinner, which many considered to be the best match of the whole 2022 tour.

It was a five-hour, 15-minute battle that saw two of the biggest young talents battle it out until the early hours of the morning. Alcaraz won the match after saving a match point down 4-5 in the fourth set and breaking back after multiple unbelievable shots. The quality of tennis in that match could be considered as some of the highest of all time.

A couple months earlier, Sinner got the best of Alcaraz in the fourth round of Wimbledon. Despite both being somewhat new to grass, some of the shot-making was still as good as ever and was an indicator that both players have the potential to be good all-court players going forward – especially as Sinner took Djokovic to five sets in the following round.

In a time when Alcaraz can look virtually unstoppable, Sinner has been one of the players who can consistently take it up to him and has been able to make their head to head even at 3-3. As he continues to improve the variety of his game and playing with confidence on the big points, he will be one of the ones to contend with him for years to come.

With Nadal pulling out of Monte Carlo and looking decreasingly likely for a fifteenth Roland Garros title, will one of these two young guns be able to go all the way?


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