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Gen Next Takes Over: 20 Years Later, No Federer, Djokovic Or Nadal In French Open Men’s Singles Final

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were eliminated from the French Open 2024 early, though due to different reasons, as the tournament stares at first final in men’s singles category that would not feature either of the two legends since 2009. Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev are set to battle it out for the two final spots, bringing forth the ‘gen next’ of men’s tennis

Even in 2009, when neither Djokovic nor Nadal made it to the men’s singles final, it was the OG Roger Federer who took on Robert Soderling in the summit clash. Nadal had reached the final on all of the previous four occasions, with the last French Open final without him, Federer and Djokovic being the 2004 event where Gaston Gaudio had beaten Guillermo Coria.

As we edge closer to the 2024 deciders, here’s a look at the two semi-finals in men’s singles category:

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x3) v Jannik Sinner (ITA x2)

When Alcaraz and Sinner collide the result has often been spectacular, leading the ninth instalment of a blossoming rivalry to be billed as the match “everybody wants to see”.

The two best players of their generation are both seeking to reach a first Roland Garros final. The winner will go into Sunday’s championship match as the title favourite with Novak Djokovic out of the picture.

Alcaraz and Sinner had injury concerns arriving in Paris, but the decision to skip Rome in the build-up looks to have been the right call.

The 21-year-old Spaniard has looked increasingly like a player capable of becoming the youngest man to win Grand Slams on all three surfaces.

But he knows his biggest test awaits in his first Grand Slam encounter with Sinner since their 2022 US Open quarter-final, where Alcaraz won in five sets en route to his first major triumph.

“You have to run like it is a marathon,” Alcaraz said of the challenge of playing Sinner. “I think he has nothing bad. Everything he does, he does it perfectly.”

“I think it is the hardest thing to face Jannik.”

Sinner, 22, has also dropped just a single set and will take over as world number one next week.

“It’s a great achievement, but I want to measure myself on this surface, on the clay,” said Sinner, who has won in Rotterdam and Miami this season, on top of his Australian Open title in January.

“It’s a surface where I struggle a lot sometimes and especially the beginning. We have seen this in the last years. I’m even more happy to be in the semis.”

Casper Ruud (NOR x7) v Alexander Zverev (GER x4)

Ruud and Zverev will meet for the first time since the Norwegian romped to a crushing victory in last year’s semi-finals for the loss of just seven games.

In stark contrast to Zverev, who played back-to-back five-set marathons in the third and fourth rounds before defeating Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals, Ruud has not played since Monday.

He was due to face reigning champion Djokovic in a repeat of last year’s final but the world number one was forced to withdraw with a knee injury, handing the seventh seed a walkover into the semis.

Zverev will be playing in his fourth successive Roland Garros semi-final, but is yet to reach the final and still has not won a Grand Slam title.

“Of course I want to win one. I want to be in the finals. That’s my main focus,” the fourth seed said after seeing off De Minaur.

The 27-year-old Zverev is playing under the shadow of an ongoing trial in Berlin over allegations of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Ruud is also still searching for a first major trophy, having lost all three of his Slam finals, including in each of the past two years in Paris — against Rafael Nadal in 2022 and Djokovic 12 months ago.

Zverev defeated 14-time champion Nadal in the first round.

With AFP Inputs

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