Carlos Alcaraz and the man he just replaced atop the rankings, 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, were placed in the same half of the French Open field in Thursday’s draw and could face each other in the semifinals.
Alcaraz is seeded No. 1 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time and was automatically placed in the top section of the bracket. Djokovic is No. 3 and so could have ended up on either half — had he landed in the bottom, he and Alcaraz only could have met in the final at Roland Garros, where 14-time champion Rafael Nadal will be missing for the first time since he made his debut there in 2005.
The draw set up potential women’s quarterfinals that would include defending champion and No. 1 Iga Swiatek against No. 6 Coco Gauff in what would be a rematch of last year’s French Open final. Other quarterfinals could be No. 4 Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, against No. 7 Ons Jabeur, a two-time Slam finalist; No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January, against No. 5 Caroline Garcia; and No. 3 Jessica Pegula vs. No. 8 Maria Sakkari.
It’s time for the draw 👀
Watch all the action unfold live here: https://t.co/HZ8Kf414i9#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/FlWf1vLHrm
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 25, 2023
Alcaraz, who just turned 20, and Djokovic, who just turned 36, have played each other just once previously, in the semifinals of the Madrid Open in May 2022. Alcaraz won that one 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) — a day after beating Nadal in the quarterfinals, becoming the first player to defeat both Djokovic and Nadal at the same clay-court tournament. Alcaraz went on to collect the title there with a straight-set victory over Alexander Zverev in the final.
It was Zverev who ended Alcaraz’s 14-match winning streak in the French Open quarterfinals last year. That was also the round where Nadal stopped Djokovic in a four-set, four-hour thriller.
This time, the quarterfinals by seeding would be Alcaraz, the reigning U.S. Open champion, against No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, a two-time major finalist; Djokovic against No. 7 Andrey Rublev; No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open winner, against No. 8 Jannik Sinner; and No. 4 Casper Ruud, runner-up at the French Open and U.S. Open last year, against No. 6 Holger Rune.