Part of my growing: Sinner philosophical about Alcaraz defeat

Italian draws lessons from five-set semi-final defeat

Jannik Sinner, demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

A fresh chapter has been added to Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz’s growing Grand Slam rivalry, one which the Italian is determined to learn from and build upon before the pair next cross paths on such a stage.

In his first encounter since learning of his ascent to world No.1, the 22-year-old came up short against his younger contender over five sets, which dashed his hopes of back-to-back majors and broke his 12-match winning streak at that level.

The ledger now reads 5-4 in the Spaniard’s favour after the 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 result, the second time from as many five-set encounters between the pair that he has prevailed after their night-time classic in the Flushing Meadows quarter-finals in 2022.

Still, Sinner has still only fallen three times this season – twice to Alcaraz and once to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I think it was a great match. For sure the sets he won he played better in the important points, no? I think that was the key,” Sinner said. “Obviously disappointed how it ended, but, you know, it's part of my growing and the process. Thinking back, before the tournament reaching this point, I'm obviously very happy. In the other way, I'm disappointed about the match today.

Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, semi-final, Roland-Garros 2024©️Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“Now I'll just keep looking forward to improve, trying to do the best I can, and then we see what I can do in the future here in this tournament. If we watch the positive side, I have improved from last year, for sure. There is another chance to play here for the Olympics. Then we see how it goes.”

Sinner was proud of how he handled cramps, which he admitted were the result of tension in the third set and said both men had developed a greater understanding of the match-up with time and experience.

The two were vastly different players to those of that US Open blockbuster. Both had since grown into Grand Slam champions.

“I think we study each other very well. You know, you can see a little bit of tension sometimes of both players and both sides just because we know each other slowly a little bit better,” Sinner said.

“Each time when we play against [each other] we expect a couple of things, and then, you know, to mix up the plans, you make different choices sometimes on the court.

“I think next time obviously is going to be different. Let's see what surface we play on. Also, that's very important. Best-of-three or best-of-five is also different. You know, Grand Slam, there is a different approach. But I think it's exciting, and I'm looking forward for hopefully some more.”

Leading into Roland-Garros, there were doubts whether Sinner would even take his place in the draw, much less mount a serious push for the trophy, after a problematic hip forced him out of the Rome Masters.

With each passing round, however, he soon found his feet even if his hip was not yet up to full strength.

“The hip was okay. You know, so the more the match goes on, the right hip doesn't have the strength of the left hip,” he said. “It's normal at this moment, no, so sometimes I feel a little bit, especially after two-and-a-half hours and until the four hours, but this is no excuse.

“I was moving good. I was feeling quite good on the court. So, I'm not anymore worried about the hip. Just disappointed about how it went today. Just have to accept it.”