FRENCH OPEN: The second Grand Slam of the season, and the pinnacle of clay court tennis gets underway on Monday. With Rafael Nadal withdrawing from the tournament it opens up an opportunity for anyone to make their mark.

Carlos Alcaraz The next ‘king of clay’

Carlos Alcaraz is the shining light for tennis’ next generation of players and the 20-year-old Spaniard will be hoping to add a French Open title to what is already a very respectable record for such a young player.

Alcaraz idolised Rafael Nadal as he rose through the tennis ranks, and with his hero withdrawing from this year’s French Open it provides him with the opportunity to carry on Nadal’s legacy at the French Open.

The Spaniard already has one Grand Slam to his name, winning the Australian Open in 2022. He has a 75%-win rate in the French Open and looks a formidable player on clay, reaching the quarter-finals last year where he narrowly lost out to Alexander Zverev.

Alcaraz couldn’t have asked to be much better prepared for this tournament, winning both the Barcelona and Madrid Open on clay in his preparation and looks a solid favourite at 2.26. He will certainly be one to watch out for not only in this tournament, but for many years to come.

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Novak Djokovic A chance to make it three

Despite being one of, if not the greatest tennis player of all time, Novak Djokovic has found success at the French Open hard to come by, largely due to the total dominance of Rafael Nadal. The world number one has two French Open titles to his name in 18 attempts. Djokovic has lost out to Nadal in the final on three occasions and the Spaniards absence will provide extra incentive for Djokovic to go far in this tournament.

Djokovic has already had a taste of Grand Slam success this year, winning the Australian Open in January. A win at the French Open would make it 2/2 for him this year, a feat which he achieved in both 2016 and 2021.

The world number one has not had the most successful preparation on clay this year, failing to make it past the quarter-final stage in the Monte-Carlo masters, Srpska Open, and Italian Open. The Serb’s earlier than anticipated exit in Rome will provide him with a couple of extra rest days as he sets his sights on a third French Open title, and he’s once again strongly fancied at 2.84.

Stefanos TsitsipasHunting a first Grand Slam

Stefanos Tsitsipas has been one of the most exciting prospects on the ATP Tour since he played his first matches on the ATP Main circuit in 2017, aged just 18. The young Greek is still yet to win his first Slam, but with the old guard starting to move out his chances will only grow.

Tsitsipas is another who heads into the tournament in good form, giving a solid account of himself at the Italian open and reaching the final of the Barcelona Open where he lost out to Carlos Alcaraz.

The world number five has reached two Grand Slam finals in his career so far, including the French Open in 2021, but at the age of 24 he is reaching a stage in his career where he is no longer considered a young prospect, and will need to get a Grand Slam title or two to his name to be considered with the best players on the tour. A French Open without Rafael Nadal is a great opportunity to do so and at odds of 9.2, he makes plenty of appeal.

Casper Ruud One more step

Casper Ruud is another player who will be boosted by the absence of Nadal, the man who beat him in last year’s final. Ruud put on an impressive display last year, beating some top-quality players enroute to the final, but experience got the better of him as he fell in straight sets at the final hurdle.

Ruud has put on impressive displays in both the Italian Open and Estoril Open, both on clay, in the run up to this year’s French Open. His recent good performances on clay tied in with last year’s run in the tournament and makes him a serious contender this year at good odds of 16.5.

However, the young Norwegian has never beaten Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic and will likely need to do so in Paris if he is to go one better and land his first Grand Slam title at this year’s French Open.


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