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Best Of 2023

Rivalries Of 2023: Alcaraz vs. Sinner

Young stars met three times for second consecutive year
December 07, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner played three Lexus ATP Head2Head matchups in 2023, all in semi-finals.
Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner played three Lexus ATP Head2Head matchups in 2023, all in semi-finals. By ATP Staff

The growing rivalry between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner added three installments in 2023, with all three Lexus ATP Head2Head matchups coming in semi-finals. After they split two meetings in quick succession at Indian Wells and Miami, Sinner gained a 2-1 edge on the year and a 4-3 advantage overall by beating the Spaniard en route to the Beijing title.

ATPTour.com looks back at their three monumental matchups this season.

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Indian Wells SFs, Alcaraz d. Sinner 7-6(4), 6-3
In their first meeting since their five-set epic at the 2023 US Open, Alcaraz won a back-and-forth opening set at the BNP Paribas Open before pulling away early in the second.

The Spaniard started fast but was pegged back by Sinner, who won 11 points in a row and later brought up set point at 6-5 in the opener. But Alcaraz erased the opportunity with the help of a drop shot and powered through the tie-break before building a 3-0 lead in set two. He would see home the victory with relative ease from there.

In a matchup known for highlight-reel points, Alcaraz won the most enthralling exchange of the evening by curling a topspin lob onto the baseline after Sinner forced him to retreat following two tough volleys at the net.

"I'm really happy to get through this great match. Jannik obviously is a really great player with great shots," Alcaraz said after the victory. "I would say we're going to have a great rivalry over the years. We are playing in the best tournaments in the world. It's not over here. We are going to play a lot of great matches."

The Spaniard would go on to defeat Daniil Medvedev in the title match to lift his first Indian Wells trophy without losing a set and reclaim the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking from Novak Djokovic.

Miami SFs, Sinner d. Alcaraz 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2
Two weeks after their Indian Wells showdown, Sinner gained swift revenge with a comeback victory at the Miami Open presented by Itau. In a show-stopping semi-final, Sinner won one of the points of the year: an action-packed 25-ball rally that ended with a delicate, dipping passing shot to bring the crowd to its feet.

Despite that moment of magic — and early leads in all three sets — Sinner was on the ropes when he faced two break points at 3-4 in the second. But the Italian answered the bell with a match-changing surge, winning 19 of 21 points to take the set and build a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Alcaraz appeared to be struggling physically early in set three, but he willed his way to one final push. In the end, his 22 winners were not enough to overcome 28 off the racquet of his opponent.

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"It means a lot. We both played a very, very high level of tennis again. I just tried my best," Sinner said after advancing to his second Miami final. "We both tried to play very aggressive tennis and today it went my way so I'm very happy."

Sinner was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the Miami final but went on to win his first ATP Masters 1000 title later in the season in Toronto.

Beijing SFs, Sinner d. Alcaraz 7-6(4), 6-1
After Alcaraz won 7-4 tie-breaks to open each of their previous two matches, Sinner claimed the opening-set tie-break by the same scoreline at the China Open.

In a marathon opening frame, Sinner twice came back from a break down. He began to take control by moving Alcaraz around the baseline and winning all 15 of his net points in the set.

After navigating a tense opening to the second set, fighting off five break points across his first two service games, Sinner sprinted through the finish line to move ahead 4-3 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head with Alcaraz.

"For sure in the very top [of the big matches I've played]," the Italian said of the win. "I would say every match against him is very tough. We always show great respect, we both play great. When we play against each other, we try to stay on our limits."

Sinner followed up the victory by beating Medvedev in the Beijing final to claim his fourth tour-level title of the season, equalling his personal-best tally from 2021.

Read all stories in our Best Of 2023 review.

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