The draw of the 2023 French Open is out and projections of possible matchups and potential winners are already doing the circles on social media. The biggest takeaway from the men’s side is top seed Carlos Alcaraz and two-time winner Novak Djokovic landing in the same half of the draw. We’ll narrow down the list of favorites and look out at those projected matchups. In this article, we shall delve into players to watch and dark horses to win the second Grand Slam of the season.
Let’s start off with the top half of the draw which is the most intriguing. The two heavy favorites – Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic – seeded 1 and 3 respectively were drawn in the same half of the draw.
That means Djokovic and Alcaraz could meet in the semifinal of this year’s French Open. Djokovic has won this event twice in his career, while Alcaraz is gunning for his first and is the bookmakers’ top favorite to reign in Paris.
Alcaraz’s quarter looks breezy in the first three rounds. He starts with a qualifier and the highest seed he could meet before the quarters is Cameron Norrie who is one of only three players to defeat him this season. But there is a good chance the Briton won’t make it that far with the likes of Alexander Shevchenko and Lorenzo Musetti potential roadblocks.
Alcaraz’s biggest obstacle in his quarter is 2021 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas is yet to win a title this season despite reaching the Australian Open final this season. But the Greek is 0-4 in h2h meetings against the Spanish World No. 1, so the safe bet is Alcaraz makes at least the semis.
Djokovic has not been at his scintillating best, but write him off at your own peril. The highest seed he could face before the quarterfinal is 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz. But with Pole’s clay swing in disarray, Djokovic should easily make the last eight without any real issues. There, he could meet one of two Russians, Andrey Rublev or Karen Khachanov.
Rublev already owns a win over Djokovic on clay, and Khachanov has beaten the Serb on the indoors in Bercy, but on the Parisian clay in a best of five, the two-time winner is at his own planet.
The Alcaraz-Djokovic showdown could be one for the books and a high chance it will materialize.
It’s surreal to write this, but Daniil Medvedev is very much in the conversation of potential French Open winners.
Medvedev is in the bottom half of the draw and his quarter includes Italian power hitter Jannik Sinner. The Russian loves this matchup, winning all six matches in the head-to-head.
But they’ve never played on clay so that quarterfinal, should it happen, could be up in the air on who wins it, but Medvedev will be feeling confident about his chances after collecting his first ATP title on clay in Rome.
Chile’s Nicolas Jarry hasn’t won a main draw match at the French Open in his career. Not only is Jarry expected to break his duck this fortnight, but he could also be a player to watch in the first quarter of the bottom half of the draw.
Jarry has a great draw to start with, taking on Hugo Dellien for a start, and then his route could look something like this – Paul, Struff, and Ruud before the quarterfinals.
Jarry upset Ruud in Geneva and with the Norwegian far from his best tennis, lightning could strike twice.
Should Jarry make it all the way to the quarterfinal, he’ll likely see eye-to-eye against Holger Rune. The Danish star is one of the favorites for the title and he’s probably the most pleased top-10 seed in the draw. Rune and Medvedev are on a collision course in the semis in the bottom half.
To Win the Tournament: Holger Rune
Nicolas Jarry is one of the players to watch but is also a dangerous floater in the draw with high chance of wreaking havoc in his quarter. Jarry’s immense serving and powerful ground strokes work well on clay and he also moves extremely well for his size. He’s our pick to make at least the quarterfinals.
Alexander Shevchenko burst onto the scene on the main tour at this year’s Madrid Masters. He has a 25-16 record across all levels in 2023 and is 13-6 on clay.
Shevchenko starts off with Oscar Otte, a match he should win, and could take on an inconsistent Lorenzo Musetti in the second round. His projected third-round opponent is Cameron Norrie, who might be fatigued after his exertions in Lyon. The Russian looks like a smart pick to emerge out of this minefield unharmed and make the second week where his run will most likely end at the hands of Alcaraz.
One of the unsung heroes of this year’s clay swing is Taylor Fritz. The American has been in sublime form reaching three semifinals on the dirt (due to play in Geneva at the time of writing) including one in Monte Carlo.
Fritz has zero pressure at this time of the year and he’s used that to his advantage by playing with so much freedom and attacking intent. If he replicates that form on the clay courts in Paris, I see no reason why he won’t make the fourth round, setting up a popcorn match against Holger Rune.
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