Up to five players could win this year’s men’s French Open in the “most open” Grand Slam since Rafael Nadal’s dominance, according to Marion Bartoli.
With 14-time champion Nadal sidelined for part of the season ahead of an expected swan song next year, Spain’s French Open hopes now rest on the broad shoulders of Carlos Alcaraz.
The 20-year-old claimed his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last summer, but was forced to sit out the Australian Open with injury, entering a major as a slam champion for the first time. .
He is also the top seed after overtaking Novak Djokovic following back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid.
Will Alcaraz be able to wrest the crown from Nadal?
Spanish tennis fans shouldn’t feel too sorry for themselves because the heir to Nadal’s place at the top of the sport is already here. Carlos Alcaraz, who just turned 20, has already won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and this week he regained the world number 1 ranking. With such confidence on hard courts like clay, Alcaraz is an amazing athlete, while his complete game and calm temperament belong to a much more experienced player. There’s a lot of hype, but boy is he justified.
Projected Men’s Quarterfinals by Seeding
(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas
(3) Novak Djokovic vs. (7) Andrey Rublev
(6) Holger Runev vs. (4) Casper Ruud
(8) Jannik Sinner vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev
“This will be the most open Roland Garros we’ve had since Nadal’s dominance,” Bartoli said, speaking to Sky Sports.
“I chose five names that could win this year and they are Djokovic, Alcaraz, Holger Rune, Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. I still feel that one of those players will be the winner, but choosing five names that could win the men’s tournament has never been happened in the past in almost 20 years.
“It was always Rafa, Roger Federer or Djokovic.
“One of those guys has a great chance to win Roland Garros, which is very surprising.”
Alcaraz could potentially face Djokovic in the semi-finals, while his rapid rise and instant popularity has been a gift to the sport as it faces the loss of all its long-standing front men.
“Alcaraz is one of the favourites, but he’s not the big favourite. No, I don’t think so. There isn’t one player that stands out in the group,” continued 2013 Wimbledon champion Bartoli.
Djokovic is not 100 per cent, so it remains to be seen how he physically deals with his minor elbow injury and finds some form as the tournament progresses.
Daniil Medvedev has edged past Djokovic to claim the second seed by virtue of winning his first clay-court title at the Italian Open last weekend.
He lost in the first round in his first four Roland Garros appearances before reaching the quarterfinals in 2021 and the fourth round last year.
“Rome came out of nowhere for Daniil Medvedev to win it in very, very slow conditions because it had been raining for two weeks in the Italian capital,” said Bartoli, who reached the semifinals of the 2011 French Open.
“He’s been able to win the title and you might think he’s made for faster surfaces, he can still win on slow clay courts and go all the way to the title, beating Rune.
“You can think of players that you wouldn’t normally give a chance that actually have a chance this year and that’s a new thing.
How fit is Djokovic?
Novak Djokovic has two French Open titles on his resume, but how many more would there be if he hadn’t bumped into Nadal all the time? This would seem to be a golden opportunity to not only win again in Paris, but also to surpass his great rival and become the first man to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles. However, not everything has gone well with the Serb since he won the Australian Open again, and he enters the tournament with doubts due to an elbow problem.
“Djokovic is not 100 per cent so we will have to see how he physically deals with his minor elbow injury and finds some form as the tournament progresses.”
Will Swiatek be able to turn it into a title hat-trick?
Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina dominate women’s tennis after winning seven of the majors
season titles so far and have all four Slam trophies, burying the narrative of instability at the top of the post-Serena Williams women’s game.
It would be a big surprise if Coupe winner Suzanne Lenglen doesn’t come from that trio and Swiatek, who clinched her second Roland Garros title last year.
Projected Women’s Quarterfinals by Seeding
(1) Iga Swiatek against (6) Coco Gauff
(4) Elena Rybakina against (7) Ons Jabeur
(8) Maria Sakkari vs. (3) Jessica Pegula
(5) Caroline Garcia vs. (2) Aryna Sabalenka
“Swiatek has to be able to do it again,” Bartoli said. “He has been able to win at Roland Garros on multiple occasions and is the heavy favorite this year, so it’s all about dealing with the pressure.
“You can see the stress on her face and the stress-related punches when she’s up against a big hitter like Sabalenka and Rybakina, but for her it’s about being able to deal with the favorite tag and finding a way to stay calm to fight back. power hitters”.
Last year it seemed inevitable that Iga Swiatek would win a second French Open title and, unsurprisingly, she brushed aside all entrants in an unbeaten streak that ultimately ended at 37 matches. However, this season has been different. The Pole has struggled at times with the expectation on her shoulders, while there have also been physical issues. A WTA big three consisting of Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina is emerging, and the 21-year-old’s No 1 ranking could soon be under threat.
Which British players will compete at the French Open?
The British number 1’s form has faltered after a spectacular start to the season, which included wins over Nadal and Alcaraz; the latter gave him his second-biggest title at the ATP Tour event in Rio. Norrie’s heavy, spinning forehand and athletic prowess make him well-suited for clay, and his top-16 position keeps him away from the big guns in the early rounds. A spot in the second week will be his goal.
A committed clayphobe for most of his career, Evans has found his feet in the red stuff over the past two seasons and finally won his first match at Roland Garros last year. After a difficult period following the Australian Open when he lost five straight matches, clay has seen the 33-year-old’s form, with runs to the semifinals of ATP events in Marrakesh and Barcelona keeping him in the top 25.
There have been more glimpses this season of just how phenomenal the 21-year-old left-hander could be, including wins over Andy Murray and Evans in Indian Wells. But frustratingly, he was once again restricted by physical problems, the latest an abdominal injury that dogged him for two months. Like his good friend Emma Raducanu, the most important priority for Draper, who will be making her Roland Garros debut, is making sure his body isn’t his toughest opponent.
The road back from a long-term knee injury that required three operations has been slow for Edmund, who is ranked 445. A protected ranking of 48 has allowed him to enter the French Open for the first time since 2019 and he hopes to a more favorable draw than in recent major tournaments. The former world number 14 has yet to win a match at tour level this year, but he has had some success at the lower levels and, at 28, he still has time in his side if his knee allows him.
Reigning men’s doubles champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are set to lead the charge for the Brits in the singles and doubles events.
Hewett, a three-time tournament champion, will be motivated to clinch his second Grand Slam singles title of the year, while Reid hopes to challenge his doubles partner for the title.
Having captured their 16th Grand Slam title together at the Australian Open, the pair are ready to join forces for the doubles draw.
Meanwhile, British No.1 Lucy Shuker could lead the British line in the singles draw, and Andy Lapthorne is hoping to clinch the title in the quadruple draw.
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