Five Years of Fire: Carlos Alcaraz vs. Jannik Sinner's First Encounter

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner met for the first time at the 2019 Alicante Challenger

by Jovica Ilic
Five Years of Fire: Carlos Alcaraz vs. Jannik Sinner's First Encounter
© Ryan Pierse / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have been the leaders of the new generation, lifting three Majors and seven Masters 1000 trophies while challenging Novak Djokovic for the ATP throne! Carlos and Jannik have played eight times on the ATP Tour, but their first clash came five years ago on the Challenger circuit.

On February 2, 2019, the 15-year-old Alcaraz took down the 17-year-old Sinner 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of his home Alicante Challenger. Thus, Carlos became the first player born in 2003 with a Challenger win, displaying his skills and announcing a bright future.

Jannik wrote history books a few weeks earlier, clinching the Bergamo Challenger crown and becoming the first player born in 2001 to achieve that.

Jannik Sinner & Carlos Alcaraz, US Open 2022© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

However, the young Spaniard had the upper hand, making a reliable start and breaking the Italian's resistance in the decider from 0-3 en route to a milestone victory.

Alcaraz entered his first Challenger in a career after winning the junior J1 Villena title, gathering a boost and using it nicely. They produced 12 breaks in 26 games, and the Spaniard had the upper hand after seizing seven from nine opportunities.

Sinner delivered five breaks, taking the second set but falling short in the decider. Carlos made the difference behind the second serve, defending it more efficiently and notching his first Challenger triumph. The home player took charge in the opening set, delivering three straight breaks and bringing it home after Sinner's forehand error in the eighth game.

Jannik raised his level in the second set, firing a forehand winner in the third game and delivering another break for 4-1. The 15-year-old extended the set before suffering the third break in game nine after a loose forehand, allowing his rival to force a decider.

Sinner gained a boost and had the upper hand early in the third set, taking eight of the opening nine points and defending a break point in the third game for a 3-0 advantage. Carlos faced the exit door and improved his game, dropping only three points behind the initial shot in the rest of the clash and mounting the pressure on the other side.

The 15-year-old held at love in the fourth game with a forehand winner and pulled the break back in the next one when the 17-year-old placed a forehand wide.

Jannik Sinner & Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2023© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner played their first match in April 2019.

The Spaniard locked the result at 3-3 with a smash winner in game six and made another push in the next one, delivering a break after the Italian's double fault.

Carlos cemented the lead with another fine hold in game eight, moving 5-3 in front and forcing Jannik to serve to stay in the match. The more experienced player lost the ground and suffered another break in game nine after a costly double fault, sending Alcaraz over the top.

Two young stars had to wait two and a half years to embrace their first duel on the Tour, meeting at the 2021 Paris Masters. Alcaraz prevailed 7-6, 7-5 after a massive battle. Sinner responded in the summer of 2022, beating the Spaniard at Wimbledon and dethroning him in the Umag final.

Jannik Sinner & Carlos Alcaraz, ATP Finals 2023© Giorgio Perottino / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

They embraced an epic US Open encounter, with Carlos defending a match point in a 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 win after five hours and 15 minutes, celebrating the triumph at 2:50 am and writing history books!

The Spaniard squandered the advantage in the third set and trailed 5-3 in the fourth, with the Italian serving for the win in game ten. Jannik wasted a match point and lost four straight games, with Carlos stealing the set 7-5 and introducing a decider.

The Spaniard used his momentum and outplayed the Italian, moving into the semi-final and remaining on the title course. They met three times in 2023, with Alcaraz earning a win in Indian Wells. Sinner fought back in Miami and Beijing, taking the upper hand in their rivalry.

Carlos and Jannik played their eighth encounter a few weeks ago in Indian Wells. The Spaniard earned a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph in two hours and five minutes, overcoming a slow start and delivering Sinner's first loss of the season!

The rivals left the court for three hours due to rain, and it was not their highest-quality duel. Carlos tamed his strokes more efficiently and took charge from the baseline in sets two and three. The Australian Open champion made a flying start, dominating the opener and leaving the Spaniard far behind.

However, Jannik lost the ground from set number two, spraying too many forehand errors and propelling Carlos over the top.

Jannik Sinner & Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Alcaraz won four points more than Sinner, losing serve two times in the opener and providing three breaks from six chances in the remaining two sets.

The Spaniard played another great match in the final against Daniil Medvedev, defending the title and remaining world no. 2 ahead of the Italian. However, Sinner changed that in Miami, securing his second Masters 1000 crown and becoming world no. 2 for the first time in a career at 22.

Carlos Alcaraz Jannik Sinner