The men’s French Open at Roland Garros in Paris has been dominated by Rafael Nadal over the last couple of decades. The Spaniard has won 14 of the last 17 renewals of the event, earning him the nickname of ‘King of Clay’.
Rafael Nadal wins the 2022 French Open 🏆— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 5, 2022
This is Rafa's 14th time hoisting the trophy at Roland-Garros, giving him a record 22 major singles titles‼️ pic.twitter.com/KvxQYipZHo
As the BBC report shows, Nadal’s last success came in 2022 when he defeated Casper Ruud in the final in straight sets. With doubts over his fitness this year, and the emergence of other capable clay players, could this be the year where there is a new name on the trophy?
A Fit Nadal Will Still Be Difficult to Beat
With a record of 112-3 at Roland Garros, Nadal is going to prove a tough nut to crack again if he turns up in the Grand Slam event in good shape. His 97% success rate on the clay courts of Paris is one of the most dominant records of any player at a tournament in the history of the ATP.
It has been a difficult season so far for Nadal. He went out of the Australian Open in the second round back in January when beaten in straight sets by Mackenzie McDonald. He was then forced to miss the hard-court season in the USA, which meant he did not travel to the Miami Open or BNP Parisbas Indian Wells Masters.
As you may have seen in the news, Nadal’s preparation for the French Open continues to be dented as he withdrew from the Barcelona Open, an event he has won a record 12 times. If he does feature in Paris, he will have little competitive playing time under his belt this year.
Djokovic Bidding to Extend Grand Slam Tally
World number one Novak Djokovic has won the French Open twice in his career. He was victorious in 2014 when he beat Andy Murray in the final in four sets, while more recently, he came from two sets down in the final to beat defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-2.
Djokovic has shown he can prove just as effective on clay as he is on the grass at Wimbledon in the sole grass-court Grand Slam in the sport. The Serbian has won a record 22 Grand Slam titles and he will be keen to extend that tally in Paris, so he can move past Nadal, adding to the trophy he won in Melbourne earlier this year.
Two years ago in Paris, Djokovic defeated Nadal in the semi-final of the tournament. Nadal gained revenge in 2022, getting the betting of his rival in four sets. As of April 22, Djokovic is the 6/4 favourite with Betway to win this year’s French Open. However, getting past Nadal will be a tough task.
Alcaraz Most Likely New Winner of French Open
2022 US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz has had a fantastic 18 months on the ATP Tour. The highlight was his success at Flushing Meadows in New York, which was documented by Eurosport. It was the maiden Grand Slam success of his career. That is likely to be the first of many victories in the big events in tennis for the exciting Spanish player.
The 2022 ATP Player of the Year won the Indian Wells Masters back in March. He prevailed in that event without dropping a set. It was the second straight year that he was successful in the ATP 1000 Masters tournament. Alcaraz appeared in Roland Garros’ main draw for only the second time in his career last year. He reached the quarter-finals before losing to Alexander Zverev. That run showed he could progress through to the latter stages of the tournament.
Tsitsipas Has Started the Year Strongly
2021 French Open runner-up Tsitsipas has made a strong start to the calendar year. He reached the final of the Australian Open, the opening Grand Slam of 2023, going down 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (5-7) to Djokovic. That was his second appearance in a Grand Slam final.
The world number five has reached the fourth round or better in the last four renewals of the French Open. In 2021, he had wins over Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev in his run to the final. He has shown he is very comfortable on clay courts. The nine-time ATP Tour winner has had wins in the Estoril Open, Monte-Carlo Masters (twice), and Lyon Open, tournaments all played on clay. He is seen as one of the players on the ATP Tour most likely to become a first-time Grand Slam winner in 2023.
This year’s French Open begins on May 28 and runs through to the final on June 11.