The emergence of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz is “hugely exciting” for tennis, but Novak Djokovic remains the “player to beat”, according to Tim Henman.
Sinner and Alcaraz are the rising stars of the sport as the former became the newest Grand Slam winner when he won the Australian Open in January while the latter is a two-time major champion having won the 2022 US Open and Wimbledon last year.
There have been suggestions that the pair’s big wins over the past two years signal a changing of the guard.
Henman, though, can’t look past 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic as the favourite when it comes to winning the biggest tournaments during the remainder of the 2024 campaign even though he is excited about the youngsters’ future.
The Serbian won three of the four majors last year as well as the ATP Finals and he is still sitting pretty at No 1 in the ATP Rankings.
Henman, therefore, believes Djokovic will always be the “man to beat” despite his surprise semi-final defeat to Sinner at Melbourne Park.
“If Alcaraz and Sinner stay injury free they’re going to play each other a lot in the biggest and best tournaments. To have these new rivals at such a young age with so many opportunities, that’s hugely exciting,” he told Sky Sports News.
“However, for me Djokovic is still the player to beat. He won three of the four majors last year. By his own admission he didn’t play well in the semi-finals of Melbourne but he’s still the man to beat.”
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The former British No 1, though, did reserve praise for Sinner and he believes the Australian Open title will be the “first of many” majors for the Italian.
The Italian took his game to next level during the final few months of the 2023 season as he beat Djokovic twice, notched up victories over Alcaraz and world No 3 Daniil Medvedev, and also played a crucial role in Italy’s first Davis Cup title since 1976.
Former world No 4 Henman added: “Sinner’s performance in Australia was absolutely fantastic and for me that was a continuation.
“There’s no doubt he was the most improved player of 2023 and then to be able to take that form into 2024 and win his first Grand Slam title was an incredible achievement and for Sinner it will be the first of many, he’s that good.”