Alcaraz and Sinner join all-star cast

Grand Slam-winning pair enjoy their first hit-outs on Chatrier following respective stints on the sidelines

Carlos Alcaraz, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©Cedric Lecocq / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Two key contenders joined the practice party in Paris on Wednesday.

It's the first sighting of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner on the grounds and those lucky enough to be in the stands were treated to world-class tennis across the day. 

Alcaraz waited until the early evening to make his entrance when he received a rockstar welcome from his adoring fans to have an entertaining hit with French youngster Luca van Assche.

The two-time major winner, last seen in competitive action at the Madrid Masters at the start of May, didn’t seem hampered by a persistent right arm issue.

The world No.3's enthusiasm is contagious, so much so that when a particularly vocal group of kids kept piping up with several shouts of "vamos", ever the crowd-pleaser, Alcaraz hit a sizzling forehand pass and immediately twisted towards the children and returned a huge cry of "vamos" in their direction.

Paula Badosa clearly enjoyed the early starts after she signed in for her second successive 8am start on Court Philippe-Chatrier.  

The Spaniard, who enjoyed a resurgent run to the Rome fourth round before heading to the French capital, was followed by home hope Caroline Garcia.

It was then time for a 2017 flashback.

Seven years ago, Rafael Nadal ruled Roland-Garros for a 10th time with an emphatic 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory over 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka. 'Stan the Man' held the edge, however, in their closing practice duels on Wednesday, with one whipped forehand pass prompting a joking "adios" call from Nadal.

Another meeting of champions ensued when Australian Open winner Sinner strode onto court for his first appearance since withdrawing prior to the Rome Masters with a hip injury.

Handshakes with team Nadal and team Wawrinka done and dusted, the Italian appeared in fine fettle with intense hitting over the net from the former world No.4 Kei Nishikori.

A multitude of injuries have denied Nishikori any Grand Slam tennis in the past two seasons. The last time the 34-year-old competed at Roland-Garros he reached the fourth round in 2021.

Hoping to inspire an opening win in Paris, 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson was on court coaching Nishikori. Welcome back Kei!

The home crowds cheered on Richard Gasquet curling in his trademark picturesque single-handed backhand in rallies with world No.13 Holger Rune.

Time for major pedigree in the form of Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. A quick panoramic video filmed on Sabalenka's mobile and the serious business started.

Big serves and heavy groundstrokes were on the menu, as both stars were eager to practise imposing, grip-and-rip returns into the corners.

Their top-tier points further served as a reminder why this Grand Slam-winning duo are considered part of the new 'Big Four' in tennis alongside reigning champion Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff.

On this evidence Sabalenka and Rybakina are set for a long stay in Paris.

Just before 5pm, a commotion broke out by the Jardin des Mousquetaires big screen zone of the grounds. One by one, fans noticed the tall, suntanned figure striding towards Court Simonne-Mathieu for an early evening practice session was none other than world No.5 Daniil Medvedev.

Picking up his pace as he began to realise he’d been spotted, the former US Open winner soon resembled the pied piper as kids of all ages chased him past the deckchairs and on towards the greenhouse-enclosed show court.

Medvedev was racing to make it on time for his appointment with Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

 Daniil Medvedev, practice, Roland-Garros 2024©André Ferreira / FFT