Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner may not be French Open contenders warns Grand Slam champion

Kevin Palmer
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner aiming for more Grand Slam glory
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner aiming for more Grand Slam glory

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are heading to the French Open with big question marks hanging over them, yet the two stars tipped to dominate men’s tennis are still among the favourites to lift their first title at Roland Garros.

Alcaraz has been nursing a forearm injury that forced him to pull out of clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, with his only appearance on the surface in recent weeks confirming the arm problem has not been resolved as he lost to Andrey Rublev in Madrid.

Sinner’s hip problem forced him to pull out of the Madrid Open and also miss his home tournament in Rome, sparking fears that he would miss the French Open.

Yet after undergoing treatment at the medical facility attached to Italian soccer giants Juventus in recent days, Sinner made a tentative return to the clay courts to practice in recent days and he arrived in Paris ahead of the French Open on Wednesday.

Playing some practice sets is very different to getting through two weeks of a Grand Slam tournament, which could include long five-set matches that will test their injury worries to the full.

Now six-time Grand Slam doubles champion and Netherlands Davis Cup captain Paul Haarhuis has told Tennis365 that Alcaraz and Sinner will be heading into Roland Garros more concerned about their physical issues than focusing on the challenge of winning in Paris.

“Who is favourite for Roland Garros? The odds may say it is Carlos Alcaraz, but that doesn’t take into account who is fit,” Haarhuis told Tennis365 as he prepares to host coaching clinics at the Verdura Resort in Sicily over the course of this year.

“The issue for Alcaraz is physical, clearly. He is one of the top contenders if he is fit. What we saw from him in Madrid, that may not be enough physically for him to win a Slam.

READ MORE: Jannik Sinner set to reveal his French Open decision – but is he taking a big gamble?

“The same with Jannik Sinner. I just love his game and I love his personality. The same with Alcaraz.

“These two guys are just great for tennis. The way they play, their attitude on the court, the crowd just loves them and it is fantastic for our sport.

“Two years ago when Alcaraz won the US Open, I didn’t believe what I was seeing. The energy he got from the crowd was amazing and he gave that energy back to them as well.

“When he played (Frances) Tiafoe in the semi-final in New York, there was as many Americans cheering for this Spanish kid as there were cheering for Tiafoe. To do that was an incredible feat.

“As a personality, to create the situation where you are just as popular as the American in his home country, that just showed you what Alcaraz brings on a tennis court.

“He is just so good for tennis. He has the shot-making, some of the skills of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and then he has that smile that brings everyone on his side. We are so lucky as a sport to have Alcaraz.

“Sinner doesn’t have that smile the whole time, but he is so likeable. His game is amazing, his composure is amazing and he is much more cool than a lot of Italian players. He is so wonderful to watch.”

When Haarhuis assesses who will win more Grand Slams between Alcaraz and Sinner, he struggles to come up with an answer.

“We need to realise that winning Grand Slam titles is tough,” he added. “We had three guys in Federer, Nadal and Djokovic who made it look easy, but before them, one guy winning 20 Grand Slams was impossible.

“Now we look at Alcaraz and Sinner and say can they get to that level, but we have to realise what we have seen over the last few years is not normal and may never happen again.

“Who wins more out of Alcaraz and Sinner at the end may come down to who can stay fit for the longest.”

Former world No 1 doubles player Paul Haarhuis and eight-time singles winner Francisco Clavet are just two of the big names who are set to deliver a series of exclusive tennis clinics at Sicily’s Verdura Resort in 2024.