French Open: Iga Swiatek braced for third Paris title; Medvedev wins Rome Masters; Alcaraz in quest for Roland Garros glory; Novak Djokovic eyes Grand Slam record

Novak Djokovic enters the French Open amid a run of indifferent claycourt form but few would be surprised to the see Serbian great hoist the Musketeers’ Trophy for a third time.

With Rafa Nadal sidelined with injury, Djokovic has the chance to move past the Spaniard in the Grand Slam race and take a record 23rd major title, which would strengthen his case in the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) debate.

Even with Nadal absent, Djokovic will have another Spaniard on his mind in the form of 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, a young man in a hurry to forge his own path to greatness.

The U.S. Open champion is narrowly favoured by bookmakers over Djokovic to win the French Open and the Serb rates him highly.

“He’s the player to beat on this surface, no doubt,” Djokovic said in Rome.

Apart from Nadal, the only player that has beaten him at the majors since 2020 is Russian Daniil Medvedev at the 2021 U.S. Open final.
His former coach Boris Becker believes it would be foolish to write him off.

Even when neither 100% fit nor healthy, Djokovic’s hunger for success and incredible mental strength are generally enough to pull him through.

Swiatek braced for tougher path to third Paris title

Poland’s Iga Swiatek dispensed any notion that she is primarily a claycourt specialist when she claimed her third Gland Slam title by winning last year’s U.S. Open.

But there is no disputing the red dirt is the perfect companion to her multi-faceted game and even less debate that Roland Garros remains her favourite playground.

Swiatek crushed Coco Gauff in last year’s final, part of a 37-match winning streak that eventually ended at Wimbledon.

“I know that there are players that are more solid throughout the whole season. You can see that from rankings, also from how they play,” she said in Rome recently.

“I’m more focused on myself. I don’t really look at other players that are playing well. Doesn’t really make much sense for me to over-analyse that.”

Claycourt breakthrough timed right for Medvedev as French Open looms

Daniil Medvedev long struggled on clay but the Russian completed his transformation into a French Open contender when he won the Rome Masters in his final preparation for this year’s Roland Garros where he will hope to claim his second Grand Slam title.

It would be ironic to see a player who hated the slow surface lift the Musketeers Cup on June 11, yet his steady improvement plus the absence of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s far from ideal lead-up give the Russian a credible shot.

Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, beat Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the final in Rome against Holger Rune, who reached the last eight in Paris last year, and all signs point to him having a long run at Roland Garros.

“I always want to believe in myself and I always want to win the biggest tournaments in the world,” said Medvedev.

Medvedev, 27, failed to win a match at the French Open in his first four appearances but managed to reach the last eight in 2021 and the last 16 last year.

All eyes on top seed Alcaraz in quest for Roland Garros glory

Carlos Alcaraz heads into a Grand Slam as the top seed for the first time at the French Open, with the absence of holder Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s fitness struggles offering him the chance to win a second major and cement his number one status.

The 20-year-old Spaniard missed the Australian Open after being sidelined for three months due to abdominal and hamstring injuries but he has been making up for lost time, winning in Buenos Aires on his return and taking two more claycourt titles in Barcelona and Madrid.

Alcaraz, who became the youngest world number one last year following his U.S. Open triumph, leapfrogged Djokovic into top spot once again despite being stunned in the Rome third round by Hungarian qualifier Fabian Marozsan earlier this month.

Barring that blip, Indian Wells champion Alcaraz has been the player to beat on the circuit, with his athleticism and warrior spirit reminiscent of fellow Spaniard Rafa Nadal, who will skip Roland Garros this year due to injury.

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