The last time Rafael Nadal missed the Roland-Garros tournament, in 2004, his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz was still a baby. Almost two decades later, he has become the new general in men’s tennis. Still 141e world at the start of 2021, the young Spaniard, who conquered the throne of world number, will face a player from the qualifications in the first round of Roland Garros. This is one of the lessons of the draw for the 2023 edition, carried out by rugby player Antoine Dupond, which takes place on Thursday May 25, in Paris.
Titled this season in Indian Wells, Madrid (two Masters 1000) or Barcelona (ATP 500), Alcaraz shares the costume of the favorite of Roland-Garros with the Serbian Novak Djokovic, whom he could find in the semi-finals of the tournament. Since the beginning of the calendar year, the two men have already exchanged the world number one spot four times.
World number 2, Russian Daniil Medvedev thought he was allergic to clay. But that was before winning on this surface in Rome (Masters 1000), the tournament which acts as a general rehearsal before Roland-Garros. With this reference, he completes the trio of favorites to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires. He will also compete against a qualifier, and could find on his way, in the semi-finals, the Dane Casper Ruud, finalist in the previous edition against Nadal.
Be careful, however, the men’s table has never seemed so open since the mid-2000s. Thus, the Greek Stéfanos Tsitsipas and the Dane Holger Rune are serious competitors. The first has already reached the final of the tournament in 2021. Revelation of the 2022 season, the second has just risen to sixth in the world a few days after blowing out his twenty candles.
Iga Swiatek appears less sovereign than last year
In the women’s draw, Iga Swiatek, who will face Cristina Busca, 77e world player, from the start of the tournament, is favorite to her own succession. In 2022, the Pole had conceded only one set on the road to her second title at Roland-Garros (after 2020), while remaining undefeated throughout the clay season. Since then, the noose has tightened with two competitors from the East: Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. The defending champion is also in the table part of the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (consecrated in 2021), and the Kazakh Elena Rybakina, 4e world player, whom she could find in the last four.
Titled three times, including the Australian Open in 2023, the Belarusian is the most regular on the circuit this year. From Wimbledon to Rome, via Indian Wells, the Kazakh has also won prestigious victories.
Behind these three gondola heads, it will be necessary to keep an eye on Veronika Kudermetova; the Russian remains on two consecutive semi-finals in Madrid and Rome (two WTA 1000). Also to follow is the Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who is coming back from injury. The finalist of the last Wimbledon will have a feeling of revenge after her elimination in the first round of Roland-Garros last year. To correct this misstep, she will have to beat the Italian, Lucia Bronzetti, who is not among the top seeds.
What about French chances? A few months ago, Caroline Garcia won the Masters, the tournament which brings together the eight best players of the season. World number four at the end of 2022, she therefore established herself as a contender for a Grand Slam coronation. Since then, hell. After leaving, then reconnecting with her coach, Bertrand Perret, the Lyonnaise is going through a period of doubt. At Porte d’Auteuil, it is nonetheless the best tricolor card, and by far, men and women alike. She will start her tournament playing against 22-year-old Chinese Wang Xiyu, 54e world. The Lyonnaise finds herself in Aryna Sabalenka’s part of the table for a possible quarter-final.
On the French side, in addition to Caroline Garcia, the longevity champion of the circuit, Alizé Cornet, will challenge the Italian 43e world, Camila Giorgi, and will compete, at 33, in a 65e Consecutive Grand Slam. And Océane Dodin, who remains on four eliminations in the first round of the French Open, will meet her compatriot Selena Janicijevic, 20, 183rd in the WTA rankings.
Caroline Garcia and the others
Among the eleven French men in the top 100 men, the highest ranked, Ugo Humbert, is only 38e place (notably followed by Richard Gasquet or Corentin Moutet). None of them had seeded status at the time of the draw. This is to say the hollow in which the tricolor tennis is located. For the three Frenchmen, the draw offered Franco-French confrontations, Humbert will face Adrian Mannarino, Gasquet will play against Arthur Rinderknech and Moutet will start his fortnight against Arthur Cazaux, young hopeful tricolor.
Luca Van Assche (19) and Arthur Fils (18) embody the French next generation and will be closely scrutinized. They will play against Marco Cecchinato and Davodovich Fokina, seeded number 29, respectively, for their first match in the main draw. They could meet in the next round if successful. Also note the presence of veteran Gaël Monfils, who tumbled in the world hierarchy following injuries and will face the Argentinian Sebastian Baez, 44e global.
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Finally present, Benoît Paire, who received a wild card to play this Grand Slam, will share the court with Englishman Cameron Norrie, 14e at the ATP, a tricky draw.
This 121e edition of the French Open is already marked by the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal. Like the Mallorcan, British veteran Andy Murray had to give up participating. Wimbledon finalist in 2021, the Italian Matteo Berrettini, also injured, drew a line under the Parisian Grand Slam for the second time in a row.
In the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka will be missing. After announcing that she was pregnant, the Japanese, ex-world number one, put her career on hold this year and will not be present on the Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen courts.