Thursday, 1 June 2023, 13:47
For the first time in 19 years, Rafael Nadal won't be in action at the French Open as injury prevents him from defending his crown. However, Nadal’s loss could be fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz’s gain, presenting him with the opportunity to open his own account at Roland Garros.
The 20-year-old, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September last year, comes into the tournament as the bookies’ favourite. His comprehensive victories in the opening rounds over Italy’s Flavio Cobolli on Monday and Taro Daniel of Japan on Wednesday will only have increased his belief that this could be his year in the French capital.
Next up for the man from Murcia tomorrow, Friday, is a potential banana skin opponent in the form of Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who may be familiar to those who witnessed his country’s Davis Cup success in Malaga last November.
Alcaraz’s primary competition for the title is expected to come from a familiar face in Novak Djokovic. Should both players advance through their opening rounds, this will set up a semi-final epic next Thursday, 8 June.
Standing in the way of the 36-year-old Serbian is Malaga man Alejandro Davidovich, who followed up his victory over local favourite, Arthur Fils, on Monday with a comfortable win against France’s Luca Van Assche on Wednesday.
Davidovich, seeded 29th, has shown mixed form during the clay court season up to this point, with his quarter-final defeat to Alcaraz in Barcelona being the furthest he has advanced in any competition.
The man from Rincón de la Victoria will however take encouragement from his most recent meeting with Djokovic, at the Monte-Carlo Masters in April last year, where he won in three sets. The pair will meet again tomorrow, Friday.
In the other half of the draw, Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild blew the competition wide open with his first-round win over second seed Daniil Medvedev.
It certainly makes the draw look even more top heavy than previously and, after Medvedev’s exit, not a single Grand Slam champion remains in the bottom half.
Nevertheless, this may benefit the likes of Alcaraz and Davidovich should they advance to the final to be played next Sunday, 11 June.
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