Alexander Zverev implies he is ready to 'duel' Jannik Sinner

Zverev and Sinner could meet during the clay court season.
Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Alexander Zverev, for all his off-court concerns, was once ranked as high as No. 2 on the ATP tour. Jannik Sinner is currently the No. 2 with a very real chance of moving up to No. 1 over the course of the summer. Zverev, however, does have the skill to compete on any surface with any player so he is not simply going to back down to Sinner if they should meet near the end of any tournament they both participate in.

Sinner is currently preparing to play in the Madrid Masters which begins at the end of April. Zverev will be there as well, but the German is playing in the BMW Open this week, a tournament he has won the event twice before (2017 and 2018) and he is the top seed in Munich. Both Sinner and Zverev lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas recently at the Monte-Carlo Masters on Tsitsipas's way toward winning the event.

Ahead of the BMW Open, Zverev was asked about Sinner, though, as while Tsitsipas won in Monte-Carlo and re-entered the top ten of the ATP rankings, Sinner is the person many are chasing as the Italian has a very good chance of reaching No. 1 at some point this summer. Tsitsipas is a threat at every clay court event, but Sinner is the greater threat to where Zverev wants to get in the rankings. If Zverev wants to get to No. 1 he has to overtake the Italian.

Alexander Zverev understands he will need to defeat Jannik Sinner

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the BMW Open, Zverev answered a question about Sinner by saying, "At the moment, Sinner is performing impressively, he is the strongest in terms of play and results. Jannik (getting to) No 1? It’s a matter of weeks, but tennis is a sport of duels. Things can change. I have to prepare myself if the opportunity presents itself."

Sinner might have heard those words and answered to himself, "Challenge accepted." Of course, that is where Sinner's mentality will have to pivot. He is no longer one of the hunters, he is one of the few that are being hunted. Players will want Sinner's ranking and he will need to lose for them to reach him. For Zverev, that probably means facing and defeating Sinner on clay courts over the next couple of months.

Sinner still needs to improve on clay, though. He reached the quarterfinals of the French Open once but in his maiden voyage at the major in 2020. He was bounced out in the second round in 2023. Meanwhile, Zverev has made the semifinals at Roland Garros in each of the last three years. If Jannik Sinner wants to reach No. 1, he will probably have to defeat Alexander Zverev at some point soon.

More tennis news and analysis