The second Slam of the season is about to kick off on Sunday in Paris, where the best tennis players in the world will compete on the clay courts of Roland Garros.
The French Open is one of the most prestigious and challenging tournaments in the sport, and it always offers plenty of drama and surprises. Here are some of the key questions and predictions for this year’s edition.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, the undisputed King of Clay, has decided to skip the tournament due to injury. This opens up the opportunity for Novak Djokovic, the world No.1, to claim his 21st Grand Slam title and surpass Roger Federer and Nadal in the all-time list. Djokovic has won Roland Garros twice before, in 2016 and 2021, but he will face stiff competition from other contenders, such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, and Hubert Hurkacz.
One of the most exciting prospects in the men’s draw is Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spaniard who has been hailed as the next Nadal. Alcaraz has had a breakthrough season on clay, winning his first ATP title in Umag and reaching his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Rome. He also defeated world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in Madrid, becoming the youngest player to beat a top-ranked player since 1990. Alcaraz has a powerful game and a fearless attitude that could make him a dark horse at Roland Garros.
On the women’s side, Iga Swiatek is the clear favorite to defend her title. The Polish star has dominated on clay this season, winning two titles in Rome and Madrid, and reaching the semifinals in Stuttgart. She also became the world No.1 for the first time in her career after winning Rome. Swiatek has an impressive record at Roland Garros, where she has won two of the last three editions without dropping a set. She also has a favorable draw that could see her avoid some of her main rivals until the final stages.
However, Swiatek is not invincible, and there are several players who could challenge her for the trophy. Aryna Sabalenka, the world No.2, is one of them. The Belarusian has been consistent and confident this season, winning three titles in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Stuttgart. She also pushed Swiatek to three sets in Madrid, showing that she can compete with her on clay. Sabalenka has a powerful serve and aggressive baseline game that could trouble anyone on a good day.