Through most of July, Carlos Alcaraz had an ever-stronger grip on men’s tennis. He was ranked No. 1 on the ATP tour and had beaten Novak Djokovic in five sets in the Wimbledon final. Seemingly, the player who sat on the throne of tennis had changed and his name was King Carlos. At just 20 years old, his reign might last for most of two decades.
Only tennis is a funny sport. A forehand can get the slightest bit wobbly and takes weeks to fix. In that time, however, a player might suffer some early-round defeats at tournaments. Or maybe, as appears to be the case with Carlos Alcaraz, a player just is not mentally fit enough to know how to stretch great form over the course of an entire calendar year.
Maybe Alcaraz does that in 2024, but he failed at that in 2022 and again this year. Carlos Alcaraz did not win another tournament after Wimbledon, but Djokovic won every one he entered. Worse for Alcaraz, another player might be ascending to his level, or perhaps beyond, and might have already taken Alcaraz’s assumed place as the second-best player in the world.
That player is Jannik Sinner.
Jannik Sinner appears to have bypassed Carlos Alcaraz
No player, not Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic, should be heading into 2024 with more confidence than Sinner. He defeated Djokovic twice in three meetings in the past two weeks, though he did lose the ATP Finals final. In the Davis Cup that followed and needing to win to keep Italy alive, Sinner beat the Serb in three sets.
Sinner also leads the head-to-head against Alcaraz 4-3. This includes Sinner defeating Carlos Alcaraz the last two times the two have met. Sinner went 2-1 against the Spaniard this year.
Since losing to Djokovic in the semifinals at Wimbledon, Sinner has won three tournaments, was undefeated in the ATP Finals until losing to Djokovic in the final, and Sinner won all three of his matches in the Davis Cup Finals. That does not include his victories in doubles matches as well.
Jannik Sinner was ascending at the end of 2023 while Carlos Alcaraz was struggling. Djokovic is still the clear ATP No. 1, though Sinner appears to be catching up to him as well. But on hard courts, Sinner is better than Alcaraz, and Sinner could grab a bunch of rankings points on hard court tournaments early in 2024. By March, Sinner could bypass Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev and be the second-ranked player on the ATP tour.