Issue #7 | Carlos Alcaraz: Joy and Pain

Issue #7 | Carlos Alcaraz: Joy and Pain

Photo Credit: Mateo Villalba/Getty Images

Today in Paris, in what was arguably the most anticipated matchup of Roland Garros this year, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner brought the heat, leaving everything they had on Philippe Chatrier this afternoon. It would be Carlos Alcaraz who would fight his way into his first Roland Garros final by edging out Italian superstar and soon to be world number one, Jannik Sinner in a five-set battle: 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. 

Alcaraz and Sinner would add another chapter to their newfound rivalry and continue to shine a bright light on the future of men’s tennis in the now all but defunct “Big Three Era.” Alcaraz would need to climb his way out of a 1-2 set deficit, but would get stronger in the fourth set, and would clench firmly to an early fifth set break. Sinner, who would add some additional drama to the match by playing through a cramping hand, would have the fans at the edge of their seats as he fended off four break points in the third set.

While Sinner valiantly played through the pain, Alcaraz reached deeper into his bag, and in Alcaraz fashion, got better the longer the match went on. It was evident after the fourth set that Alcaraz had managed to ever so slightly tip the momentum of the match to his favor, and conjured up some of his finest tennis heading into the decider.

In the fifth, Alcaraz would go full beast-mode, breaking Sinner early by blasting a forehand so fierce, it likely left a permanent mark on the earth’s surface. From that point on, Alcaraz would set the dials to cruise control, and would close Sinner out on his third match point opportunity. The fifth set was Alcaraz at his best, doing Alcaraz things, and everything up to that point was nothing short of spectacular from both men.

Post match, Alcaraz mused, "You have to find the joy in suffering," in reference to his recent injury, rivalry, and disappointment on this very court last year.  This is Alcaraz’s third Top 5 win of the season, and now takes a 5-4 lead in this head to head against Sinner. "The toughest matches I’ve played have been against Jannik," he added, sounding like he’d just gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson.

Reflecting on the match, Alcaraz admitted, "I saw him struggling, but I was cramping too. I learned from last year's match against Djokovic—you have to stay calm and keep going." Indeed, his composure saw him through this epic match, leaving us all anxious to see what he does next.

Alcaraz still has work to do, he has his sights set on a third Grand Slam title, on what’s likely his favorite surface. Awaiting him in the final is either Casper Ruud (it’s your time to shine buddy) or the guy who I'm pretty certain was one of the Russian nightclub owners from The Transporter Refueled. Alcaraz, the prodigy who already boasts US Open and Wimbledon titles, is the youngest player to reach a major final on all three surfaces. 

As for Jannik Sinner, on Monday, he’ll make his debut as the new world number one. The 22-year-old, fresh off his Australian Open triumph, showcased the resilience and skill deserving of the world’s top player, and it doesn’t need to be said, we all know it. He may not leave Paris as the champion, but he’s leaving with the number one ranking, $700K in his Gucci bag and Anna Kalinskaya (as a respected and equal partner mind you). Don’t get it twisted, Jannik stays winning.

To me, the French Open seems to be the most obvious Grand Slam for Alcaraz to find success, taking the reins from Rafael Nadal, and continuing the years of Spanish dominance at Roland Garros. There’s no doubt Alcaraz will be ready to create more magic on Sunday, in fact, I’d argue it’s his destiny to win here. One thing’s for sure, win or lose, he’ll do it with finesse and intensity, and beaming that million dollar smile of his the entire way. Because despite all his success at the young age of twenty-one, he’s also at peace with the suffering that comes with his journey to greatness.

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