Will Sinner and Alcaraz be able to compete with Djokovic in 2024?

By Emilio Sanchez Vicario CEO of the ES Academy,

Technical Serve

J.S. First Ball: Improved from last summer and changed by putting legs together and hitting more to the right, improved slice, flat, and even the T serve, which uses continental grip, I believe there is a small advantage for Jannick with serve.

J.S. Second Ball: Very deep and aggressive, more risk than Carlos.

C.A. First Ball: To improve %, jump to the ball is to study, looks like an antelope, jumps so much inside the court, uses continental grip, but throws more over his head, serves with more topspin, but suffers a little with slice and flat.

C.A. Second Ball, more spin, can vary thanks to topspin on the backhand.


All two are very complete on the forehand side, can play attacking by transferring weight forward, also very good at open counterattacks in lateral and also walking backward for backhand for defense.

J.S. Strength, depth, groomed execution, low legs, high point of impact, incredible fast arm speed. Very heavy ball. Can play Zone 3 pushing both inside out and inside in.

C.A.: Strength, depth, and angles, execution with racket a little higher in preparation giving him more options of heights, also very fast arm speed, but can vary more with high effects, normal, and base balls. Also plays a forehand in Zone 3 pushing inside out and inside in.


Slight advantage for Jannik on the two-handed in attack, above all to the response of second serves. In counterattack similar performance, but defensively and running Carlitos has more heights with topsin and incredible angles.

We could talk about the top backhands in the world together with Novak, all two can make the difference in attack, counterattack, and defense.

Crosscourt directions are touching excellence, but the change on the down the line is devastating and on top, they open up the court to later dominate with the forehand.

Jannik’s grip is closer on the right hand, almost Eastern, Carlos continental in the right, allowing him to change faster from the topspin to the slice or to the drop.

Backhand Slice

The slight advantage of Carlos because the continental grip allows them to wait until the last moment to hit the two-hand or one-handed slice not showing the intentions, the same for the drop shot. But Carlos still does not use slices so much, in the future he will realize the possibility of staying more inside the court to be more aggressive later with the forehand.

Jannik, on the other hand, goes with a more open racket because of the more closed grip, he loses a little bit of the intention of the shot when trying to slice, he is working a lot on this, and in the future, he will surely fix it, or it also helps him to do a lot of one-handed backhand volleys, very similar execution.

The playing on hard courts will make them work and will help them so much, and like a race to see who will be able to use it more sooner.

Drop shot

As in the slice, an advantage for Carlitos, I explained in backhand the more natural grip and not needing to change it makes it have more time for execution, Jannik on the other hand has to move the grip and takes away time, after the serve Carlos on the first ball can handle it faster, even coming off the forehand they spread it, he can change trajectory at the last moment with the forehand and leave the ball dead stopping the execution completely.

Carlos as a child played a lot on the wall at his father’s club, and he also played little square on the service square, this gave him the ability to use short balls and an advantage over other players who did not expect it.


In this part of the game both of them are working hard to develop more, Carlos has been doing it longer and putting more time into trying to improve the volleying game, he won matches with players who play far on returns like Medvedev and Ruud, and he does a lot of serving and volleys.

Jannik in the second part of the year, serving better, and being more aggressive, is losing his fear of advancing and has shown how much he has learned in the matches with Djokovic at the end of the year that he chooses also to serve and volley.

And is against these super top that the two have to finish closing the circle to dominate more and finish more points at the net, above all in key moments, as Carlos did in London against Novak. Also, the two tend to use so much the drop volley. Instead, they need to keep working on transition towards the net to keep volleying in open spaces and close the gaps for the opponent.


In such a fast type of tennis where you get to these levels of excellence mainly with the proper use of the serve, the top players get to win during the year close to 90% of their serves. Federer 93% when played, Rafa 90%, Novak 89%, and where are Jannik and Carlos?

The main objective is to get to serve first serves but after to be able to continue dominating with the plus 1, the volley, or the plus 2 or 3, but always dominating. If by chance we are missing, the second serves as well have improved to the level of winning more than 60% so also the chances of winning games get to those numbers of 90%

Carlos and Jannik are in the door to have this dominance but still with the service there is room to improve, instead with the returns they are at the level of Novak.








Important points under pressure



The differences are small but they are there, with service Novak is still nice 2 points above Jannik and 4 above Carlos. In the free points as well, there is a remarkable difference.

In the response, both of them almost outplayed Novak, who is the best. Carlos, who on the serve is the last one, makes up for it by getting a little more breaks, almost 4 points over Novak.

Under pressure, Novak is to remember better the right tactics above all in the tiebreaks. So, the 2023 record of tiebreaks in slams was stratospheric, more than 20 tiebreaks won, 16 in a row between Paris and London. Stand out that until the final and the tiebreaks with had come so ness in unforced error, we see his quality in the important moments.

Both Carlos and Jannik will have to work on making fewer errors in the key points of the sets, above all on the serve, because in the response they are doing it, and the year has surpassed Novak.


To get to where they are, we can say that they have a very gifted physique. Carlos is more spectacular in his movements, he runs for any ball, and he is fast, resistant, elastic, and flexible, we can compare him to Novak or Roger. Jannik is not far behind, and his center of gravity is lower, probably because of his experience with skiing. He is not so fast but instead, endurance is there, that’s why he wins so many matches in the third or fifth set. He also developed running strokes with a decimal strength but without taking risks.

The physical pillar we can split it into different attributes. I think Novak with his preparation still today at 36 is slightly in front of them, but both are super close because they worked hard and improved so much. It was surprising the Roland Garros nerve breakdown from Carlitos in the final but looked fine in London and US Open.

Here is a chart with different characteristics and small differences.



We see that Novak is still slightly superior to the others in almost all categories, having that physical ability allows him in the important points to make those exchanges that with footwork make him confident in himself and be able to make the right attacks.

Rafa was the only one to drive Novak crazy, especially by making him work longer in the exchanges, making him make more mistakes in the decisive moments, and get into his mind.

In Australia, there are perfect conditions for Novak, but given the speed of the court, my brother said he has never built such fast courts anywhere. Then Jannik, given the level shown indoors and being so fast, will have his chance for sure. Javier is the one making the courts of the Aussie Open in the last years.

Carlos has everything to do it right, is rested, and has the quality, we will see how he comes after the defeats of the end of the year, it will be more mental than physical that will be fresh. I would like to see the Carlos that was aggressive but didn’t mind to run, defend or grind; there is when he becomes really dangerous.

Novak, on the other hand, arrives like the last two years, with some pains before the event, but the last two years with pain he also found the way to win, physically is at his top, like Jannik almost did not stop, and are really top form.

Physically, we can say that Jannik has the slight advantage of having finished so strong and not have any problems.


The physical is almost attached to the mental; the physical is the amount of time that you are able to do what you do well, and the mental the quality of time that you do it. You play the game 100%, but when you get to those key points the mental state would be, how you think, how you feel and how you approach the difficulties.

When you serve, you play the key points, but you make a mistake. What do you feel? How do you get out of that emotion to face the next point? How do you talk to yourself after losing that point? What do you say to yourself? You only have 25 seconds to forget, and then forget and think what you do well and use it in the next point.

After 2023, Novak is the rival to beat, 3 slams, 1 final, Masters, and semis in Davis, spectacular season. Confidence is at a high level, and emotions seem to be controlled at key moments, although at times his attitude and manners of speaking to himself betray him.

Carlos started well, final in Paris, and champion in London, but after had a drop in results; mentally for sure he doubts on his head. For me after Wimbledon, he realized the ability and opportunity to play many ways, with all weapons, and that is a double-edged sword, to try things in key moments that are not the moment to try; also there was a decline in the hunger, for me it must find the 2022 Carlos who gave everything in both attack and defense, winning many points in two ways; in the second half of the year, it seemed that he did not want to enter that battle.

Jannik, on the other hand, had a year that went from less to more, he exploded in the indoor season with the final at home soil in Turin, beating Novak in the group to end leading Italy and beating again Novak to win the Davis Cup. He’s full of confidence; he believes it, and mentally that victory over Novak put him on the level of the other two. Emotionally controlling the moments better, and his conversation within himself was more him; even in the victory in doubles, we saw a leader, a champion, and facing a slam with that confidence put him at the top of the favorites for Australia even if he has never won.

But to win the slams, you have to make the difference in everything; win 90% of the serves, get to break free serves above 30%, but the rival as well will have those numbers, and it becomes a battle or a fight. Matches are decided by a few points, and there the champion is where they stand and make the difference, in attack with the serve, in defense, counterattack or attack to the response but above all being there all the points. The greatest of the game Federer, Sampras, Agassi, Rafa they try to win with their weapons, but in case they can’t, they wait and become patient like wolves until the rival shows weakness; that is what makes a difference, and use their privileged head, seems that they don’t get affected by errors, emotions, talks with themselves, they always play the next point, their purpose to win or to fight all the time makes them exceptional. And Jannik and Carlos if they want to take Novak’s place from his podium, they will have to touch excellence with their service, take risks to take initiative away from their rival, and be present the whole match.

Let’s divide the factors that decide the mental state from the three from 2022 comparison to 2023.

Confidence, emotions, thoughts, and purpose are decisive in defining attitude.



We finished 2023 with a mentally plethoric Carlos, a promising Jannik but slowly Nole took the place away from them, starting for Australia, Paris, in London Carlos recovered but the match that changed everything was in Cincinnati, Carlos changed and let himself down, maybe the year was too long, but from there he was not the same, neither at US Open, nor in China, nor on the indoors he came back with the same strength and determination. Nole kept the competitiveness with his best season, and Jannik grew and grew to put himself on the agon of the favorites.


By Emilio Sánchez Vicario CEO of the ES Academy,
Photos by Paul Zimmer

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