June 20, 2024

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner shake hands in Indian Wells

As Carlos Alcaraz lifted the Wimbledon title last July, a new era in tennis appeared to be underway.

After two decades of dominance from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, one of the young guns had finally downed an icon in a Grand Slam final, with Alcaraz’s win against Djokovic appeared to be confirmation the future of men’s tennis had already started.

Djokovic had comprehensively beat Jannik Sinner in the Wimbledon semi-finals last summer, with the Italian still off the pace against the greats of the game at that stage of his development.

That was before Djokovic reclaimed his place at the top of the men’s game by winning the US Open and the ATP Finals, as he sealed another year-end No 1 ranking with plenty to spare.

What came after that was the biggest seachange in the men’s game for a generation, with Djokovic falling off his perch unexpectedly, with Alcaraz and Sinner emerging as not only his potential successors but possibly the new kings of the men’s game in 2024.

Alcaraz and Sinner are battling with injuries and may not be at their best if they decide to play at this month’s French Open, but there is little doubt that the Spaniard and his Italian friend and rival look set to battle it out for the world No 1 ranking and the game’s biggest titles over the course of the next decade.

Getting anywhere close to the Grand Slams totals achieved by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is likely to be beyond Alcaraz and Sinner, but we asked respected broadcaster Marcus Buckland to make his prediction on who will win more in the battle between Alcaraz and Sinner.

“Wow, what a question that is,” Buckland said in his chat with Tennis365 ahead of his stint broadcasting on Radio Roland Garros at this year’s French Open.

“Twelve months ago, I wouldn’t have even paused for a second because Alcaraz was coming through and blowing everyone away.

“His win over Djokovic at Wimbledon last summer was just incredible and he is an amazing tennis player who will only get better given his age and his potential.

“Yet when I look at what Sinner has done in the last few months, I would be tempted to say he could end up winning more Grand Slams than Alcaraz over the course of his career.

“The way he beat Djokovic at the Australian Open and then the way he won in Miami was so impressive and it feels like there is a lot more to come from him as well.

“Of course, the big caveat here is both players have had some physical issues over the last few weeks and that could play a part in this, but hopefully they can be as fit as is realistically possible over the course of the next ten years because this will be a great battle.

“If I had to give you an answer, I would have to lean on Sinner.

“He has a lot of pressure on his shoulders from his Italian fans and he has dealt with it so well, but the same can be said of Alcaraz.

“This is a young guy who has come through with everyone saying he is the next Rafael Nadal and he has lived up to that and won two Grand Slams already.

“The great news for tennis is we are coming out of this golden era with the ‘Big Three’ or big four as I like to say as Andy Murray was with them for a long time, yet we have a new generation coming through who look to be ready to take over.

“We have a few wonder kids coming through who could come through and win four or five Slams, while Alcaraz and Sinner have already started the next generation by winning a few of the majors already.

“Tennis is blessed to have had this amazing era that is coming to an end and an exciting group of players emerging who will carry the game forward for the next decade.”

Alcaraz and Sinner would be among the favourites to win the French Open if they were fully fit to compete at Roland Garros, but they may have to wait for their moment of glory on the red clay of Paris.

What seems certain is the next era of men’s tennis is set to be just as exciting as the glorious chapter that is closing with the exit of Federer, Nadal and, eventually, Djokovic.

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