Over the past year or so, the tennis world has become accustomed to seeing Carlos Alcaraz take on Jannik Sinner, and enjoyed every minute of it.
The pair have played each other four times; each of them has included breathtaking shot-making and almost unbelievable court coverage and their most recent meeting, at the US Open last autumn was a stone-cold classic, Alcaraz coming through their quarter-final after saving a match point and then going on to win his first slam title.
Alcaraz on Sinner: “I have to be focused on every shot”
Their fifth meeting will come on Saturday when the pair meet in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it seems that Alcaraz enjoys his encounters with the Italian just as much as everyone else.
“I enjoy that match, because I have to be really, really focused in every shot,” he told reporters in Indian Wells after easing past Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4 in the quarters on Thursday. Sinner beat defending champion Taylor Fritz in three sets to reach the last four.
“I have to play my best. That’s why Jannik is such a great player, as well. Not only with great serve, great movements, it is because he pushes the opponent to the limit, trying to play aggressive with great shots. And (for) the opponent (it) is really tough to be focused, mentally and physically during the whole match.
“That’s what I love (about) playing against him, as well, that it pushes me to the limit. I have to be really, really focused. I love to feel that.”
US Open meeting was a stone-cold classic
Their US Open clash was a particularly stunning match, a moment when Sinner showed he really is a potential slam champion and Alcaraz showed his nerve matches his talent, as he went on to win the title.
Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, said later that he felt like he was watching the future of tennis. At times it was so fast it was almost like watching table tennis and the only question was who was the faster around the court.
“Well, running around the court, I would say me,” Alcaraz said. The shots going faster from him. You know, I would say he hits great shots and really strong ones. But running? I’m gonna pick myself.”
The chances are, there will be plenty of running from both men on Saturday. Settle in for another classic.