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Alcaraz v Sinner 'the match everybody wants to watch'

By BBC
Tennis GETTY IMAGES

Image caption: Alcaraz has won two Grand Slam titles, while Sinner won his first major at January's Australian Open
FRI, 07 JUN 2024 LISTEN
GETTY IMAGES Image caption: Alcaraz has won two Grand Slam titles, while Sinner won his first major at January's Australian Open

Carlos Alcaraz has labelled his French Open semi-final against Jannik Sinner as the match "everybody wants to watch".

The pair are the highest-ranked players remaining in the men's singles draw following Novak Djokovic's withdrawal.

Italy's Sinner, who will become the new world number one on Monday, is on a 12-match winning streak at Grand Slams this year after winning his first major at January's Australian Open.

"I love these kind of matches. I love this kind of challenge, to have a really difficult battle against him," said Spain's Alcaraz.

He and Sinner will face off on Court Philippe Chatrier - not before 13:30 BST - before Alexander Zverev takes on Casper Ruud in the second semi-final.

Regardless of Thursday's results, there will be a new French Open champion lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday.

In fact, it will be the first time since 2004 that one of the 'Big Three' - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Djokovic - will not feature in the Roland Garros final.

  • 'The best player in the world'

Wimbledon winner Alcaraz and Australian Open champion Sinner have proved themselves as potential successors to the 'Big Three' following their Grand Slam victories in the past 12 months.

Both players struggled with injury issues in the build-up to the French Open, but they have cruised into the last four, dropping just one set each.

Third seed Alcaraz - who also won the US Open title in 2022 - was triumphant in the pair's last encounter, with victory at Indian Wells moving him level at 4-4 in his head-to-head record with Sinner.

However, Sinner holds just one clay-court ATP Tour title compared to Alcaraz's seven, and the Spaniard has long been destined for French Open glory.

Despite this, Alcaraz, 21, says it will be the "hardest thing" to face Sinner.

"Everything he does, he does it perfectly," Alcaraz said of his 22-year-old opponent.

"He probably is one of the most difficult challenges that we can face in tennis right now. I think he's the best player in the world."

  • The battle of tennis' nearly men

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IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Image caption: Zverev lost 6-3 6-4 6-0 to Ruud in last year's semi-final

Grand Slam success is long overdue for Zverev and Ruud, who are both still searching for their first title at a major.

Germany's Zverev famously lost the 2020 US Open final to Dominic Thiem after leading by two sets, while all three of his semi-final appearances in Paris have ended in defeat.

Ruud, meanwhile, has fallen in straight sets in the last two French Open finals, losing to Nadal and Djokovic respectively.

However, the Norwegian seventh seed did get the better of Zverev in last year's semi-final and he should be the fresher of the two for their rematch.

Ruud was handed a walkover in the quarter-finals after Djokovic's withdrawal from the tournament through injury.

Fourth seed Zverev has played almost 17 hours of tennis in his five matches, four more than Ruud.

"I've played a total of eight-and-a-half hours over the last three days so I need to recover," said Zverev after his straight-set win over Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals.

Zverev is playing in the French Open while a trial is ongoing in Berlin relating to domestic abuse allegations against him. The 27-year-old has denied the claims.

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