2022 FRENCH OPEN MEN’S PREVIEW
The return of the favourite – or a new Red Dust champion?
All eyes will be on two players in Paris next week as the French Open sees Novak Djokovic and Spanish wonderkid Carlos Alcaraz go head to head in the betting to win at Roland Garros.
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It’s worth noting that Andy Roddick called Alcaraz a ‘co-favourite’ with Nadal, but Nadal’s ongoing foot injury might prove to be his weakness.
Djokovic though is looking good, almost back to his best, after a slow start to the season.
Deportation from Australia for refusing a Covid vaccination had more than a mental effect on the world No.1.
It has taken him until mid-may to win a tour event – something 12 months ago we would have not believed.
But his victory over another clay specialist of sorts, Stefanos Tsitsipas, in Rome has certainly put him back in the frame for another ATP title.
Tsitsipas, despite that loss, could also figure, and a fit Nadal clearly would. His success will depend on that injury and how well his doctors can keep him on court, playing to his peak.
Nadal could become only third player to register 300 Grand Slam mens singles match wins in Paris, and he could also become the third player to reach 30 singles finals.
The World No. 4 has reached six title matches at the Australian Open (won two), 13 at Roland Garros (won all), five at Wimbledon (won two) and six at the US Open (won four).
Nadal has had an amazing start to 2022, winning 23 of his 25 matches. But that niggling foot injury has come back to haunt him of late.
The bookmaker odds give anyone outside those four, virtually no chance.
Daniil Medvedev is recovering from a hernia operation and clay may not suit him, Zverev is very hit and miss, but should have a good run to the quarters.
Of the so-called ‘outsiders’ watch out for youngsters like Jannick Sinner, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev.
Sinner has won five ATP singles titles, becoming the youngest men’s player to achieve that since Novak Djokovic in 2007.
Italian Matteo Berrettini is a long shot to make the final, as are Canadians Felix Auger Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
And don’t discount American Taylor Fritz, who has emerged as a real talent in 2022.
The 24-year-old won his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells and is shaping well for a solid European campaign.
The USA has not seen one of its own win a men’s singles grand slam event since Andy Roddick in 2003.
And for the record, Andre Agassi was the last American to win the French Open, in 1999.
Fritz will not win this year either, but his style will be enough to frighten a few opponents.
So … to our tip.
Alcaraz has now proven he can win tournaments. He has won in Miami, Barcelona and Madrid.
His playing style is similar to the King of Paris – and he now has the opportunity to take over as Spain’s new tennis superstar.