Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic in the same half of the French Open draw
PARIS — Carlos Alcaraz and the man he just replaced the top of the chart22 times Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovicplaced in the same half of French Open field in Thursday’s draw and could face each other in the semi-finals.
Alcaraz was seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament and was automatically placed in the top group. Djokovic is No 3 and so could have finished in both halves – if he were bottom, he and Alcaraz could only meet in the final Roland Garroswhere 14 times champion Rafael Nadal will be absent for the first time since his professional clay-court debut in 2005.
The game starts on Sunday.
Usually, the previous year’s singles champions are invited to appear at the draw, so 2022 women’s winner Iga Swiatek was present on Thursday. Of course, Nadal is not. However, he was the first player mentioned by French Tennis Federation president Gilles Morreton at the start of the ceremony, who noted: “Unfortunately, he cannot compete in this year’s tournament.”
Swiatek did not appear to show any ill effects from the injury to her right thigh that forced her to stop competing in the third set of her quarter-final in Rome last weekend. She indicated almost immediately that the problem would not prevent her from competing in Paris, where she has won two of her three major titles.
“It’s like my favorite tournament of the year, so I’m always excited to come back,” said Swiatek, who has held the No. 1 spot for over a year. “Before the tournament, I have more motivation to train harder, to do things better.”
The draw puts her in a potential quarterfinal with a 6 Coco gauff in what will be a rematch of last year’s French Open final.
Alcaraz, just turned 20, and Djokovic, just 36, have met only once before, in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open in May 2022. Alcaraz won that match 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7 -6(5) — a day after beating Nadal in the quarterfinals, becoming the first player to beat both Djokovic and Nadal at the same clay-court tournament. Alcaraz continued to win the title there with a huge victory first Alexander Zverev in the final.
It was Zverev who ended Alcaraz’s 14-match winning streak in last year’s French Open quarter-finals. It was also the round where Nadal stopped Djokovic in a thrilling four-set match that lasted four hours.
This time, the men’s quarterfinals seeded will be Alcaraz, the defending US Open champion, meeting the 5th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was a two-time Slam finalist; Djokovic vs No. 7 Andrey Rublev; No. 2 Daniil MedvedevUS Open champion 2021, against number 8 sinner Jannik; and number 4 Casper Ruudrunner-up of last year’s French Open and US Open, facing No. 6 Holger rune.
Other women’s matches in that round could be number 4 Elena Rybakinareigning Wimbledon champion, against the number 7 Ons Jabeur, a two-time grand finalist; No. 2 Aryna Sabalenkawho won the Australian Open in January, before number 5 Caroline Garcia; and the number 3 Jessica Pegula compared to the number 8 maria sakkari.
A player who should have been seeded, 29 Paula Badosawithdrew before the draw, saying she suffered a stress fracture in her spine during the Italian Open.
Swiatek will start his tournament with a meeting with Cristina BucsaThe 67th-ranked Spaniard has a career record at the French Open of 0-1.
Some of the exciting matches in the first round include Sabalenka vs Marta KostyukPegula vs. Australian Open final 2022 Danielle CollinsAnd Victoria Azarenca against Bianca Andreescu in a match between past Grand Slam champions.