Carlos Alcaraz-Sebastian Korda’s French Open showdown might be future of men’s tennis & More Trending News

 

It’s been nearly 20 years since an American male tennis participant has received a Grand Slam title— Andy Roddick, who has already been retired for a decade, was the final do it, on the 2003 US Open. But that drought might quickly come to an finish.

And Friday on the French Open, the future of the sport will be on show.

That’s when Carlos Alcaraz will face American Sebastian Korda (2:45 p.m. ET) within the third spherical at Roland Garros. They are 19 and 21 years previous, respectively.

In nearly each approach, Alcaraz is already a famous person and seemingly on his option to be not less than a generational if not all-time expertise. The Spaniard with the lightning quick ft, thunderous floor strokes and equally electrical and magnetic persona has received 4 titles this yr. That consists of earlier this month in Madrid, the place the day after his nineteenth birthday he beat the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, within the quarterfinals. For an encore, he beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic the subsequent day in a three-and-a-half hour thriller to grow to be the primary participant to defeat the 2 legends back-to-back on the dust. He additionally received the Miami Open in April — beating world No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight units alongside the best way — to grow to be that match’s youngest champion.

“He got all the ingredients: the passion, humbleness, talent and the physical,” Nadal mentioned of Alcaraz in March. “Reminds me a lot of what I was with his age.”

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand return
Carlos Alcaraz is talked about by fellow countryman Rafael Nadal as one of tennis’ elite gamers.
AFP through Getty Images

That’s lofty firm. It’s additionally not simply hyperbole about his countryman, who final fall reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, is 28-3 this yr and has rocketed to No. 6 on this planet.

“He [Alcaraz] is not a normal guy, like Novak was not a normal guy, like Roger [Federer] was not a normal guy, probably me was not a normal guy or Alex [Zverev] or these kinds of guys that have the level at a very young age so they make the transition to the very highest level very quick,” Nadal mentioned this month. “That’s what he did and he’s already there, like one of the big favorites to achieve every single tournament that he’s playing.”

Then there’s Korda.

Over the final 20 years there have been loads of “nexts” in US men’s tennis who’ve come and gone, or, extra precisely, by no means actually had been, with Jon Isner (in 2017) and Sam Querrey (2018) the one Americans to achieve the semifinals of a significant since Roddick reached the ultimate 4 at Wimbledon in 2009. The causes for the dearth of top-shelf US expertise within the men’s recreation are myriad and sophisticated, tracing again to the junior degree. Of course, The Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have additionally dominated the game throughout that point.

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Korda, although, is aware of one thing about what it takes to be one of one of the best gamers on this planet. His father, Petr, received 10 profession titles, together with the 1998 Australian Open, and climbed as excessive as No. 2 on this planet. Sebi’s older sisters, Jess and Nelly, have received six and 7 golf tournaments, respectively, on the LPGA Tour, with Jess counting a significant amongst her victories in addition to an Olympic gold medal and reaching No. 1 on this planet additionally amongst her achievements.

But golf was too boring for Sebi, so he performed hockey as a younger boy. That is till at age 9 when he returned to the household’s South Florida house following a visit along with his father to the 2009 US Open, the place they watched Radek Stepanek upset Djokovic, and informed his dad and mom that he didn’t wish to play hockey anymore and as a substitute needed to play tennis.

Sebastian Korda playing during French Open Tennis
Sebastian Korda selected tennis over hockey after seeing Radek Stepanek upset Novak Djokovic.
Sipa USA

At 6-foot-5 and with straightforward energy, a refined all-around recreation and good quickness, Korda is in some ways the epitome of the trendy participant. Though he’s extra apt to making an attempt to finish a degree early relatively than slugging it out from the baseline, his pretty compact swing, crisp strokes and regular demeanor bode effectively for an enormous future.

The outcomes are beginning to development that path, too. In Korda’s final seven majors, he has reached not less than the third spherical on 4 events.

“He’s got the game, the belief, the composure—he’s got it all, actually,” John McEnroe mentioned after Korda’s Wimbledon debut final July. Korda went on to achieve the fourth spherical. “Things can only get better.”

McEnroe, the voice of US tennis, isn’t the one one singing Korda’s praises.

“[His game has a] good physical look, good serve, good shots from the baseline,” Nadal mentioned on the Citi Open final August in Washington, DC. “I think he’s a great guy, [a] complete player. He has a lot of things to do in the next years in our sport.”

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He’s on his approach.

Korda has since climbed to No. 30 on this planet and final month beat Alcaraz within the third spherical in Monte Carlo, avenging a loss to him final yr. In the three-hour, three-set, two-tiebreak epic, he rallied from a break down within the closing set in windy circumstances to shut out Alcaraz, 6-3.

Now comes Round 3 of what ought to be many between the 2 younger stars.

With the 40-year-old Federer’s profession nearing an finish by his personal admission and Nadal’s 35-year-old battered physique solely capable of keep stitched collectively for therefore lengthy, that may quickly depart simply 35-year-old Djokovic among the many Big Three. It additionally leaves the door open for Alcaraz and Korda in what has the makings of what ought to be a longstanding rivalry for years to come back.

And on the subject of ending the Americans’ drought in majors, that’s nearly as good a spot as any to start out.

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