Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic – the two favourites for the men’s title at Roland-Garros in the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal – could face each other in the semi-finals after they landed in the same half of the draw.
But their paths to the semi-finals will not be easy with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev also drawn in a loaded top half.
Daniil Medvedev, whose first ever clay-court title in Rome moved him up to No 2 in the rankings, is in the bottom half, alongside Holger Rune, the man he beat in the final in Italy, last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud and Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
Alcaraz and Djokovic set for semi-final battle
Last year, Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz were all drawn in the same half at Roland-Garros; this year, with 14-time champion Nadal missing out through injury, the other two remain on a collision course.
World No 1 Alcaraz and No 3 Djokovic have met just once, in Madrid in 2022, when the Spaniard won 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5), going on to win the title, having also beaten Nadal along the way.
Alcaraz is chasing his second slam title, having won the US Open in 2022, while Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for a 22nd slam, equalling the record set by Nadal when he won in Paris last year.
Carlos Alcaraz’s projected path to title
The world No 1 will begin his campaign against a qualifier or lucky loser and then would play either Christopher O’Connell of Australia or Japan’s Taro Daniel.
But things quickly get more difficult from then on. Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the No 26 seed, could be waiting in round three, while Cameron Norrie, who beat him on clay in the Rio final earlier this year, is seeded to be his opponent in the last 16.
And that’s before Stafenos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev or world No 3 Novak Djokovic.
R1: Qualifier or lucky loser
R2: O’Connell or Daniel
R4: Norrie or Musetti
QF: Tsitsipas or Auger-Aliassime
SF: Djokovic or Rublev
F: Medvedev or Ruud
Novak Djokovic’s projected path to the title
Novak Djokovic is chasing his third Roland-Garros title, having won it first in 2016 and again in 2021.
The Serb takes on American Aleksandar Kovacevic in round one but could play Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in the second round.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is his first seeded opponent, in the third round, while Hubert Hrkacz, Roberto Bautista Agut, Karen Khachanov and Ben Shelton are all possible opponents, before Andrey Rublev is likely to be waiting in the quarter-finals.
R2: Fucsovics or Grenier
R3: Davidovich Fookina
R4: Hurkacz or Bautista Agut
QF: Rublev or Khachanov
SF: Alcaraz or Tsitsipas
F: Medvedev or Ruud
First-round matches we can’t wait to see
Injuries have hit both these two men this season but whenever Fognini is on a clay-court, sparks can fly, as he showed in Rome when he beat Andy Murray in a thriller. They have played just once, in 2019 on clay in Rio, when the Canadian won easily but anything’s possible with Fognini and the Italian will take heart from the fact that Auger-Aliassime lost his first match in both Madrid and Rome.
On paper, this should be a mismatch with 14th seed Norrie going into the event with a clay-court title – and a win over Carlos Alcaraz – to his name this year. But this is France and this is Benoit Paire, who will get the crowd going and who, on his day, when the wind blows in the right direction and his mind is right, can still be a tricky opponent for the world’s best.
Like Paire, Fils has a wildcard into Roland-Garros, in his case thanks to the fact that he’s the reigning junior champion. The 18-year-old has bundles of talent and qualified and won a round in Rome recently. Davidovich-Fokina is a seasoned opponent but Fils will have the crowd on his side.
Matches we’d like to see in the first week
Tiafoe and Zverev could easily be a semi-final in a slam but the long injury absence the German endured after the semi against Nadal last year means he’s down at No 22, with Tiafoe seeded higher at 12. This is the pick of the likely third-round matches. And though Zverev leads their head to heads 6-1, they have not met since 2021.
Alcaraz’s first challenge is likely to be a clash with Shapovalov, the uber-talented Canadian who is still searching for his first slam final. The pair have not played before and if Shapovalov is on his game, Alcaraz will have to work.
A lot is expected of Rublev this year after his win in Monte-Carlo but the Russian may have his hands full if he has to play Ben Shelton in the third round. The American has power to burn and doesn’t seem bothered by reputations.
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