Sakamoto and Schwaerzler on Roland Garros crash course

THE top two junior boys in the world are progressing nicely to face off in a potentially huge Roland Garros Grand Slam final. Former world number one now number two, Austrian Joel Schwaerzler is through to the third round at the bottom half of the draw, while Australian Open champion and current world number one Rei Sakamoto has reached the same stage at the opposite end.

Schwaerzler has missed a fair bit of junior tennis since ascending to world number one following his J500 title in Osaka last year. In that tournament he knocked off Sakamoto in a three-set win and then triumphed over Norwegian Nicolai Budkova Kjaer in the final. The Austrian then went on to win the World Tennis Junior Finals in October.

Since then he has not been seen on the junior circuit, but has instead been playing at Challenger level. He is coming off a title at Skopje in North Macedonia, where he defeated experienced Pole, Kamil Majchrzak in the final. It marked his first senior title, having focused on the ITF Tour in 2024 now he has turned 18.

Returning to junior level, Schwaerzler won back-to-back matches on the French clay, defeating United States’ Jack Kennedy in three sets, then storming past 17-year-old Canadian Keegan Rice to make the Round of 16 in Paris. He now takes on Rafael Jodar of Spain. The 17-year-old upset dangerous Kazakh and 13th seed Amir Omarkhanov in the first round.

On the other hand, Sakamoto proved too good for Luis Guto Miguel, double bageling the South American in just 48 minutes and winning 52 points to 19 in the match. The victory came after a tougher straight sets victory over Swede William Rejchtman Vinciguerra, 6-4 7-6.

Japan’s top ranked player now faces home nation hope Theo Papamalamis, with the 16th seed overcoming talented American Cooper Woestendick in the second round.

In other results, fast-serving Pole Tomasz Berkieta was too strong for the last Australian hope in sixth seed Hayden Jones. The 190cm 17-year-old powered down 13 aces en route to a 6-4 6-4 victory in 72 minutes to reach the third round. Fifth seed American Kaylan Bigun and seventh seeded Federico Cina are the other top talents.


There were no real surprises in the men’s singles quarter finals with top three young guns Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner reaching the last four. Sinner was too good for Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-4 7-6, while Alcaraz overcame a disappointing Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6 6-4 to set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash.

“I think it was a really good match,” Alcaraz said post-match. “I played great. I think there weren’t up and downs in my game. I controlled very well my emotions, myself on the court. “I was really calm in the moments I had to be and I’m really happy with the way that I managed everything, the way that I played and to play a semifinal here again in Roland-Garros.”

The Spaniard said he was looking forward to taking on Sinner in what would be a “really difficult challenge”.

“Right now, he’s the best player in the world, or the player who is playing the best tennis right now. What can I say about him? We’ve played great matches… high level, and I’m glad to have him in the tour at this level,” Alcaraz said.

“Thanks to him, I push myself to be better, to be a better player, to give my 100 per cent every day, to wake up in the morning and want to improve my game to try to beat him.

“I love watching him play, as well. I’m ready to take that challenge. It is the match that everybody wants to watch, and I’m sure he’s going to show his best tennis – myself, as well, and we’re going to see who’s going to win.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments