Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz are hopeful their maiden meeting at a grand slam will be the start of many blockbuster clashes following a thrilling fourth-round encounter at Wimbledon.
Italian Sinner, 20, progressed into the last eight at the All England Club after he won 6-1 6-4 6-7 (8) 6-3 in the battle between two of the biggest prospects in the sport.
A breathless start by the world number 13 saw him grab the initiative and only briefly let it slip against the 19-year-old and his friend Alcaraz, who eventually found form but could never find the level that saw him make the quarter-finals at the US Open and Roland Garros during the past year.
“I think what we showed today, it’s a great level of tennis, great attitude from both of us,” Sinner said before talk turned to whether Center Court had witnessed the beginning of a Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer-esque rivalry.
He added: “Hopefully this is going to be the case, but we never know. There are still so many other players who are playing incredible tennis.
“For sure we are the two youngest at the moment, so let’s see. I don’t know in the future what’s going to happen. Yeah, I think it’s just great for tennis to have also some new names, new players.”
Sinner revealed on Friday he spoke with Alcaraz over an ice bath after their third-round wins, which had represented the furthest either had reached at Wimbledon.
The two ATP Next Gen champions had both reached the last eight at two majors previously and despite the stakes being high, plenty of respect was on show throughout.
It was summed up when Alcaraz fist bumped his Italian rival after a slip at the net during the third set.
“Well, I mean I am always trying to be a good person first and then a good athlete. We have a good relationship,” the Spanish fifth seed explained.
“I’m going to try to be one of the best tennis players in the world for many years. Obviously Jannik is one of the best tennis players in the world as well.
“For sure he’s going to be in the top for many years. I hope to have a good rivalry with him. We hope to fight for the best tournaments in the world and the best moment in the world together.”
The clash between the youngsters occurred on the first official ‘middle Sunday’ at Wimbledon where matches were scheduled and also marked the day when 100 years of Center Court was celebrated with an A-list cast of former champions.
It was both players’ first time playing at the 15,000-seater venue.
Sinner added: “It’s a special day. Many, many great champions are here or were here. It’s just great to see the crowd is fully packed.
“Obviously when you go out there and you see the crowd cheering and enjoying, that’s the most important. For me was a privilege today to go for the first time there in the Center Court.
“Yeah, hopefully also the next round will be there. It’s a very special feeling.”
Teenager Alcaraz went 40 minutes without winning a game in the opening stages and admitted he struggled to handle the occasion but believes he can return better for it in 2023.
He said: “I start really nervous. Playing on Center Court is not easy for me. Jannik could handle it better than me, the nerves and the pressure, I’d say.
“But I felt really well here at Wimbledon. I got a lot of experience playing on grass. Now I’m thinking that I could be a great player on grass.
“Next year I hope to play some tournaments before here in Wimbledon to adapt my game, to get used to playing here on grass. But I would say I’m going to be a great player here.”