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Alcaraz v Sinner: Three keys to their next generation US Open quarter-final battle

Tennis Majors breaks down a battle that’s likely to become a regular fixture in future years

Roland Garros-Wimbledon double future Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Two of the best young players of their generation – Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner – collide on Wednesday night as they meet for a place in the semi-finals of the US Open. The winner will be breaking uncharted territory – neither has been to a semi-final of a slam before – but it’s a match-up we’re likely to see many more times over the next few years.

Head to head record: Sinner 2-1 Alcaraz

Though Alcaraz also beat Sinner in a Challenger Tour event in their first ever meeting, the pair have played each other three times on the ATP Tour, with Sinner leading 2-1.

Interestingly, Sinner has won the past two matches, both of which took place this year. One of them, on grass in the fourth round at Wimbledon, could be said to favour Sinner. But the other, the final on clay in Umag, is significant as it’s the Spaniard’s best surface.

Head to head records matter. So much of tennis is played out in the mind and even if Alcaraz may not be affected negatively, those past two wins for Sinner will at the very least give him extra inner belief.

“I played a couple of times against him,” Alcaraz said. “He’s a great player, a really, really tough one. I lost twice in the past two months, so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”

Carlos Alcaraz, US Open 2022
Carlos Alcaraz, US Open 2022 ; AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Five-set record in slams

Both men have been pushed hard at times in this year’s US Open, with Sinner playing two five-setters and Alcaraz just one, in the fourth round against Marin Cilic.

Sinner has won four of his seven matches to go the distance in slams, including the past two rounds at Flushing Meadows.

Alcaraz, on the other hand, stands at 6-1 in five-setters, his only loss coming against Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open earlier this year.

At their tender ages, fitness should not be an issue when they clash and with the match being played at night, likely to be indoors due to the weather, heat will not be a factor.

Both men came from a break down in the final set to win their fourth-round clashes so their fight and will to win is not in question.

Jannik Sinner at the 2022 US Open in New York
Jannik Sinner at the 2022 US Open in New York – AI/ Reuters/ Panoramic

Who can handle their nerves the better

Both men have been to quarter-finals before at Grand Slams but neither has made it through, so something has to give this time. That knowledge might increase the pressure on each, or it could also relieve some of it, it all depends on their mindset.

Having said all that, both men are chasing history, so it’s not like there’s nothing extra to play for. Alcaraz could yet leave New York as the world No 1 – he has to at least reach the final and if it’s Casper Ruud on the other side of the net he’ll have to win the title – and he’ll also be the youngest champion since Pete Sampras won in 1990.

Sinner, on the other hand, is trying to become the first Italian man ever to win the US Open.

Both have been tipped as future world No 1s. This one could be a classic. And it’s likely to be long.

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