Djokovic eyes history at French Open as Swiatek launches title defence – The Namibian
Novak Djokovic will bid for a record-breaking twenty third Grand Slam title at a French Open with out his previous rival Rafael Nadal for the primary time since 2004, whereas Iga Swiatek makes an attempt to change into the primary girl to defend the title in 16 years.
Serbian veteran Djokovic won’t be the favorite for the title, although, after fighting an elbow harm and failing to get previous the quarter-finals in any of his three clay-court occasions to this point this season.
Carlos Alcaraz received the Barcelona and Madrid Opens en path to taking on from Djokovic as world primary, whereas Daniil Medvedev is seeded second for Roland Garros after his maiden clay triumph in Rome.
However Djokovic will know it is a large alternative to interrupt out of his tie with 14-time French Open winner Nadal on the high of the all-time record of most males’s Slam singles titles.
The 2-time champion has misplaced eight of his 10 French Open conferences with Nadal who’s lacking this yr’s version on account of a hip harm he suffered on the Australian Open.
“I do know I can all the time play higher,” Djokovic mentioned after dropping to Holger Rune within the Italian Open final eight.
“Undoubtedly am wanting ahead to engaged on numerous facets of my recreation, of my physique, hopefully getting myself in one hundred pc form. That’s the purpose.”
Djokovic and Alcaraz are seeded to fulfill within the semi-finals after being positioned in the identical half of the draw.
The 36-year-old can also must get previous Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev within the quarters.
The opposite aspect of the draw seems extensive open, with in-form Medvedev the very best seed regardless of by no means having beforehand obtained previous the quarter-finals on the Paris clay.
The Russian misplaced within the first spherical on every of his first 4 visits earlier than making the quarters in 2021.
“I’d by no means (have) thought I’d be capable of make this (win a clay-court title),” Medvedev mentioned after beating Rune within the Rome closing.
“However I’ve to be trustworthy — a Grand Slam is all the time greater.”
In-form teenager Rune, who made a shock run to final yr’s quarter-finals, may face Casper Ruud within the final eight in a rematch of a bad-tempered assembly 12 months in the past.
Ruud went on to be thrashed within the closing by Nadal and in addition misplaced the US Open showpiece match to Alcaraz.
However the Norwegian world quantity 4 has struggled for type this yr, solely reaching the quarters in two of the ten tournaments he has performed.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who misplaced the 2021 closing to Djokovic after being two units up, will probably be among the many seemingly contenders however has not received a title but this time period — the longest he has needed to look ahead to a trophy in a season since 2018.
New ‘large three’?
The winner of the ladies’s singles is predicted to be one of many trio of reigning champion Swiatek, Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina.
They’ve received the final 4 Grand Slam titles between them and a minimum of one in all them has featured in each WTA 1000 closing this season.
Swiatek, who turns 22 through the event, would be the favorite as she chases a 3rd Roland Garros triumph and a primary profitable ladies’s title defence since Justine Henin received her third French Open in a row in 2007.
The Polish star retired from her Italian Open quarter-final towards Rybakina with a thigh harm however educated at Roland Garros on Wednesday.
Wimbledon champion Rybakina, ranked fourth, has already received the Rome and Indian Wells titles in 2023 and will face Swiatek within the Roland Garros semis.
“Hopefully I can go far on the French Open,” she mentioned. “I’ve good recollections enjoying there.
“Now that I’ve obtained extra matches on clay, it’s a bit simpler and (offers me) a bit extra confidence.”
Different title hopefuls embrace final yr’s runner-up Coco Gauff, Tunisian Ons Jabeur and world quantity three Jessica Pegula.