Alcaraz and Sinner to resume burgeoning rivalry

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are set to clash in a highly anticipated French Open semi-final on Friday, reigniting a rivalry that promises to shape the future of men’s tennis.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic sidelined due to a knee injury, the victor of this match is expected to be the top contender for the Coupe des Mousquetaires, aiming to become the first new men’s singles French Open champion since 2016.

This Friday will mark the first time since 2008 that two players under the age of 23 will compete in a men’s singles semi-final at Roland Garros. The last occurrence saw Rafa Nadal defeat Djokovic on his way to claiming his fourth title. “I think everybody wants to watch this match,” Alcaraz told reporters on Tuesday. “When the draw came out, I think everybody wanted Jannik on my side, playing the semi-final. I think it’s going to be great for tennis and for the fans.”

Alcaraz, aged 21, and Sinner, the 22-year-old Australian Open champion, are now evenly matched with a 4-4 record in their head-to-head encounters. They are set to face each other for the third time in a Grand Slam, but it will be their first meeting at Roland Garros.

Both athletes have reached the semi-finals by dropping just one set each in their previous five matches of this year’s tournament. The young Spaniard anticipates a tough contest. “You need to run as if it’s a marathon, moving side-to-side. Everything he does, he executes perfectly. The way he strikes the ball is incredible,” Alcaraz commented.

“I relish this type of challenge, having a really tough battle against him. I enjoy finding solutions, figuring out how to defeat him… I believe these situations are excellent for tennis, as you have to discover the right approach.”

Casper Ruud, who has been the runner-up for the past two years, and former world number two Alexander Zverev, both aim for their first Grand Slam title as they face each other in a rematch of last year’s semi-final.

Ruud has managed to win only one of his four matches at the French Open in straight sets. Nevertheless, the Norwegian will be considerably more rested than his German rival, having advanced to the semi-finals without playing his quarter-final match against Djokovic due to a walkover.

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Nonetheless, Ruud will encounter a challenging opponent in Zverev, who is determined to make further progress at the French Open after being knocked out in the semi-finals for the past three years.

When asked about meeting Ruud following his 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4 triumph over Alex de Minaur on Wednesday, Zverev remarked to reporters: “Two finals in a row, third semi-final in a row, that speaks for itself. He’s undoubtedly one of the top players on this surface. I believe I need to play my best tennis to have a chance.”

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