Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are building a rivalry for the ages
After a brilliant Sunshine Swing, fans left Indian Wells and Miami in no doubt that the ATP’s future is more than secure with Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner around.
Intrigue into what exactly the new order of the ATP will eventually become has been prevalent for some time. Slowly but surely we are getting answers, and to say it’s exciting would be some understatement.
There was no Novak Djokovic, probably for the final time given the US Senate have passed a bill to end all remaining Covid measure, meaning the Serbian will once again be free to compete in America. Whether you like Djokovic or not, tournaments without him have to be viewed differently. He is the best player in the world and his absence is felt. No matter who wins, you can’t help but wonder would they have done so had Djokovic been there.
In the end, it was Carlos Alcaraz (Indian Wells) and Daniil Medvedev (Miami) who took the titles, and so in many ways there was probably a degree of predictability to the whole thing. If the winners were not surprising, though, the standard of tennis on show certainly was. You expect quality from both, but what they produced in both tournaments was, at times, surreal.
One major takeaway from the Sunshine Swing is that Daniil Medvedev is back. He will have been disappointed with his 2022, although there we obvious mitigating circumstances. It would have been a miracle if the political events in Ukraine didn’t take an emotional toil on the Russian players on both Tours and, for the most part, they certainly appeared to.
He has returned a very different beast this year, though. A third-round loss to Sebastian Korda at the Australian Open was unexpected, but since then he has won 25 of his 26 matches and won four titles. It will be truly fascinating to see whether the clay season, which he has made no secret of the fact he hates, will stunt his momentum. Certainly, for all his brilliance of 2023 so far, he is still to prove he is an all-surface player.
The one player who did beaten Medvedev during that sensational run was Alcaraz, and that is testament to the new level that he has found as well. He suffered an understandable dip after winning his maiden major at the US Open last year, but his tennis since returning from injury has been even better than he produced in New York.
We are long past the point of Alcaraz’s brilliance surprising anyone, of course. His impending greatness is as close to a guarantee as you will find in tennis, but dominance is not what tennis wants to see – rivalries are. While Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will leave stunning individual legacies, rivalries will be their collective one.
I mean come ON.
Alcaraz+Sinner = the best thing on court this decade so far, reliablypic.twitter.com/6kHpkJ5yZP
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 31, 2023
In that regard, Indian Wells and Miami has whetted the appetite for the rivalry that Carlos Alcaraz is building with Jannik Sinner. There had been signs that this could be something very special long before the Sunshine Swing, of course. Before Indian Wells their head-to-head was 2-2, with each having a major win over the other. After Miami it was 3-3. Alcaraz won one semi-final, Sinner the other.
The Miami one in particular was as thrilling a three sets of tennis as you will likely see. Whilst brilliant individually, Alcaraz and Sinner seem to be downright otherworldly when sharing a court. That bodes exceptionally well for the future of the men’s game, which for far too long has been clouded in uncertainty.
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