Home Articles ATP Tour: The Top Rivalries for 2024

ATP Tour: The Top Rivalries for 2024

by Simon Zeitler
Sinner v Alcaraz tennis

We spoke about the WTA rivalries last week, but surely there are also many ones to follow on the ATP tour. Generally, the men’s circuit is very competitive right now, not only for the top spot. But it also seems as if the players are a bit more consistent, giving rivalries that chance to grow and intensify.

One thing before we start – I will keep Novak Djokovic out of these rivalries. The reason? I think you need to be at most of the tournaments to have a rivalry this year. And while Novak surely remains the guy to beat, I think he only cares about Slams and Olympics in 2024, which doesn’t quite fare well with this. So, for now, we will keep him out of this.

The battle for the next No. 1

The most obvious rivalry for years to come might be the one that everyone has their eyes one – Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz battling out for the next World No. 1. Of course, the G.O.A.T. is still there, but even if he seems the healthiest of the Big 3, we don’t expect him to defy ageing forever. 

The two candidates for the heir to the throne seem cut out – on the one hand the Spanish phenomenon Alcaraz, on the other hand the slowly but surely ever-improving Sinner. It seemed at first like the top spot would be for the Spaniard to lose, but ever since Wimbledon 2023, the Italian seems like the frontrunner in this contest. And they will surely meet in many more finals and big games to come.

Of course, Carlos Alcaraz burst on the scene like a torpedo back in 2021. First title in Umag, first Masters titles in Miami in Madrid a year later and two Slams right after that. His versatile game, his physical presence and his incredible power made him a force to be respected on every surface through the year. He repeatedly beat Novak, Rafa on clay and not too little experts thought that even the big numbers of the Big Three might be in danger.

But the big problem in the past months has been his injury prone body. Maybe it is the early start of his career, his intense playing style or just bad luck – but his injury record is piling up and his effectively kept him from dominating.

Or was it also somebody else? Jannik Sinner has long been regarded as a promising talent but stood in the shade of his friend and rival. Until at the end of 2023, where he put together an amazing run with wins in Toronto, Beijing and Vienna. He then started the year 2024 with an even more astonishing 16-0 run, including his first Grand Slam title, and the rise to 2nd in the rankings

His first loss came to no other than Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells, igniting the Sinner v Alcaraz rivalry for this year as well. Their playing styles are equally powerful, but also quite different – with Alcaraz being a bit more unpredictable and playful, but Sinner often seeming more consistent and controlled. I am sure they will battle many more times this year and fight for the big titles.

The challengers that don’t like each other

Zverev vs Medvedev

If you have ever seen the Netflix series Break Point, you now know that there is no love lost between two men in particular – Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev. The German had quite some words to say about the, in his eyes unsportsmanlike, behavior of Medvedev at the 2023 Monte Carlo Masters. In turn, the Russian shrugged off these comments in typical fashion, saying that Zverev should look at his own sportsmanship.

Whatever side you are on for this one, it makes their frequent encounters a lot more interesting, as Medvedev seems to be getting under Zverev’s skin easily. But there is no way to change it, they are in the same battle for the ATP top spots and will be running into each other often. And their heavy baseline tennis guarantees for a lot of long and hard-fought rallies, where often Medvedev takes the defensive part and forces Zverev to attack and finish points.

While Medvedev has already won a Slam, especially the German No.1 will need to find a way through these encounters frequently, if he wants to win his maiden Major and get to his dream of being World No.1. It will be interesting to see, whether this matchup will continue to be one of the most interesting matches in tennis, with a bit of extra-curricular activities in most of them.

What about America – and who is their No.1?

As of today, the proud tennis nation of the United States does not have a top-10 ATP player. Even though there are loads of talent around the tour from America, there hardly has been a break-through player similar to the likes of Alcaraz, Sinner or even Rune. Taylor Fritz has held the title as the top American for some time, but his sub-par start to the season has put him out of the top spots for now.

taylor fritz indian wells masters
Taylor Fritz, US

So, who are the main challengers? Ben Shelton won his first big title last year and is one of the tour’s hardest servers, something that always was an American stronghold, but he seems to still struggle on clay and can drop his level without an explanation at times. Tommy Paul just came back from an ankle injury and while his fighting spirit is being raved about, his consistency continues to be his weak spot. 

The two other Americans in the top-25 are Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda – both incredibly talented, but also struggle with stringing together a coherent, successful season. Where Korda could sometimes maybe show up more animated, it seems that Tiafoe struggles when his opponent drains him from showmanship.

All these guys have the talent to break into the top spots, but there are a few steps to take. And mostly they have to do with accepting the daily grind on tour, accepting that clay is part of the season and showing up with good performances at all tournaments throughout the year. While Korda easily seems like the biggest talent of the four, Taylor Fritz seems to be the guy to beat for now, as he is the closest to playing an entire season at his best level.

Do you have any other rivalries you particularly enjoy? And who do you think will come out on top of the ones mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

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