It won’t be long before Roland-Garros plays host to the second of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments – the French Open – with the 2022 edition kicking off on May 22nd.
Already, word is out on who and who won’t be playing – with Nick Kyrgios ruling himself out, and Frenchman (and former semi-finalist) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga announcing his retirement from the sport after the tournament. For those that bet online, the early favourites have been revealed – and while it’s often easier to predict the men’s singles winner, we’ve taken a look at the top three contenders.
Currently ranked fourth on the ATP Tour, Spaniard Nadal is the ‘King of Clay’ and despite injuries hampering his preparations for Roland-Garros, he will be looking to secure a 14th French Open title later this year.
The former world number 1 had a decent start to the season, already winning the Australian Open to take his tally to 21 Grand Slam titles, and prior to losing the Indian Wells Open final to Taylor Fritz, Nadal had been on a red-hot streak of 20 matches without a loss. He had suffered an injury to his ribs in the semi-finals, and is said to be out for up to six weeks.
While this break could hand his opponents and advantage, Nadal is formidable on his favoured surface, and given his form already this year, could bounce back and cement his place as the GOAT.
Looking to gain an advantage is the current reigning French Open champion, Djokovic. While his opinions on the Covid pandemic are well-documented and he missed out on a place in Melbourne after being deported, it is believed that France will scrap their Covid passport rules and the World Number 2 will be playing at Roland-Garros.
Victory for the Serbian in the year’s second Grand Slam would see him draw level with Nadal – with 21 titles. While this year, Djokovic has only played in the Dubai Tennis Championship, losing to Jiří Veselý in the semi-finals and consequently, surrendering his World Number 1 status, he has also been unable to play in both the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Open, so may well arrive in Paris a little fresher than his opponents.
The 18-year-old has emerged on the scene and risen up the rankings to 11th in the world. Also hailing from Spain, Alcaraz had quite the year in 2021 – playing in all four Grand Slam tournaments, with his best finish being a quarter-final place at Flushing Meadows, and later won the end-of-year Next Generation ATP Finals.
This season already, Alcaraz has won his maiden ATP 500 and 1000 titles, in the Rio Open and Miami Open, respectively. The latter saw him become the youngest men’s champion in the tournament’s history, also cementing his place within the top 15.
So far this year, Alcaraz has won 18 out of 20 matches, and is set to be an exciting prospect. His compatriot, Nadal, has already heaped praise on the teenager:
“He is young, dedicated and a good guy. He already has an excellent level of tennis today, and I believe that he will be a fantastic player in the near future.”
An all-Spanish final at Roland-Garros would certainly be an exciting prospect!