Tennis

2023 French Open Preview: The Top Contenders at Roland Garros

August 22, 2023

The second Grand Slam event of the year is upon us, as the French Open begins Monday, May 22, with 128 players apiece competing in the men’s and women’s singles draws.

The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, though the world’s top players have had ample opportunity to familiarize themselves with the surface after playing numerous significant tournaments on clay over the past couple months. Here are the top title contenders at Roland Garros this year.

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Carlos Alcaraz (Tipico: +125 odds to win French Open) is the favorite to win his first French Open and second Grand Slam title. The 20-year-old phenom has battled some injuries this season, but he’s been outstanding when healthy by posting a 30-3 record that includes a Masters 1000 title on clay in Madrid. Alcaraz will be the No. 1 seed in what will be his first Grand Slam appearance since winning last year’s US Open, as he missed the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic (+185) was a co-favorite with Alcaraz not too long ago, but the 22-time Grand Slam champion has gone just 5-3 on clay this year while battling an elbow injury. Beating Djokovic in best-of-five sets is still supremely difficult, though, as he’s won five of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments he’s entered, including this year’s Australian Open. Djokovic will be seeded No. 2 at the French Open.

Rafael Nadal announced Wednesday that he will be unable to play at Roland Garros, as he’s still recovering from a hip injury that’s sidelined him since the Australian Open in January.

Alcaraz isn’t the only 20-year-old with a chance to win the title, as Holger Rune (+700) has rapidly ascended into the top tier of title contenders. Rune just beat Djokovic in Rome and made a Masters 1000 final on clay in Monte Carlo. The talented Dane will be a top-eight seed in 2023 after breaking out with a quarterfinal run at the French Open as an unseeded player in last year’s tournament.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (+800) had a two-set lead on Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final, and he also made the Australian Open final this year before losing to Djokovic. The 24-year-old Athenian is still searching for his first Grand Slam title. Could this be the one?

Jannik Sinner (+1300) is one of the few players to beat Alcaraz this year, and he had a two-set lead on Djokovic at last year’s Wimbledon. The 21-year-old Italian can hang with anyone on his best days, but Sinner will have to maintain that form for an extended period to finally make it past the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam tournament.

Casper Ruud (+1500) took advantage of some favorable draws to make two Grand Slam finals last year, including one at the French Open. However, he’s struggled to meet heightened expectations this year.

Daniil Medvedev (+2000), Alexander Zverev (+2500), and Andrey Rublev (+3000) are all dark horses. Zverev was playing the best tennis of his career when he suffered a major ankle injury in the semifinals of last year’s French Open against Nadal, and he’s still trying to work his way back to that level. Medvedev is an elite hard-court player, but he hasn’t been a title contender at top tournaments on clay, and Rublev broke through for his first career Masters 1000 title on the clay courts of Monte Carlo in April.

A potential deep sleeper is Lorenzo Musetti (+6000). The 18th-ranked Italian has a solid career record of 37-24 on clay. He beat Djokovic on the dirt earlier this year and was a set away from taking Djokovic out at the 2021 French Open as a 19-year-old.

Women

Iga Swiatek (-140) is the clear favorite on the women’s side, though the gap between her and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka has narrowed. Swiatek has been dominant on clay, losing only three times on the surface since the beginning of 2022. She is also a two-time French Open champion at age 21. Swiatek’s most recent clay-court loss came via retirement against Elena Rybakina in Rome, and while her exit there was likely precautionary, that potential injury will be something to keep an eye on at Roland Garros.

Aryna Sabalenka (+370) was already a top-five player heading into 2023, but she’s taken her game to the next level this year. The Belarusian captured her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and subsequently won a clay-court WTA 1000 title in Madrid, beating Swiatek in the final.

Elena Rybakina (+750) is in the same tier as Swiatek and Sabalenka on hard courts, but her terrific serve is partially neutralized by the slower clay courts. She put together a nice run in Rome but struggled to a 1-2 record on clay in 2023 prior to that tournament.

Barbora Krejcikova (+1300) could be the player with the best chance of preventing the expected Swiatek-Sabalenka final. She beat both Sabalenka and Swiatek en route to a WTA 1000 title in Dubai in February. Those wins came on hard courts, but Krejcikova’s even more accomplished on clay, having won the French Open in 2021.

Paula Badosa (+1500) was ranked No. 2 in the world a little over a year ago. She’s struggled since but has started to find her game again during the 2023 clay-court swing, with wins over Daria Kasatkina, Jabeur and Gauff. The Spaniard’s recent resurgence should help her sneak into one of the final seeded spots, leading to a manageable early draw.

Ons Jabeur (+1700) finished 2022 with back-to-back Grand Slam final appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open, but she’s been unable to build any consistency in an injury-riddled 2023 season. Her title in Madrid last year shows that Jabeur’s capable of producing strong results on clay, but her recent form suggests the Tunisian is unlikely to make a deep run at Roland Garros.

Coco Gauff (+1700) posted her best Grand Slam result at last year’s French Open, losing in the final to Swiatek. The 19-year-old American has struggled to find consistency since, though her superb defensive skills are best suited for success on clay.

Jessica Pegula and Maria Sakkari both have +2500 odds, and Carolina Garcia (+3000) isn’t far behind them. Pegula’s a second-week mainstay in big tournaments, but the third-ranked American is 0-5 in Grand Slam quarterfinals. Sakkari reached two Grand Slam semifinals in 2021, including one at the French Open. The fourth-ranked Garcia was the only player to beat Swiatek on clay in 2022, and she’ll have the French crowd behind her.

Sorana Cirstea (+8000) has deep sleeper potential. The 33-year-old Romanian has been a tough out under the guidance of new coach Thomas Johansson. She made the quarterfinals in Indian Wells and the semifinals in Miami, beating Garcia in both of those WTA 1000 events before losing to Swiatek and Petra Kvitova, respectively. Cirstea has subsequently gone 7-2 on clay, with losses to Sabalenka and Jelena Ostapenko (+2000), the latter of whom made the Australian Open quarterfinals this year and won the French Open back in 2017.

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Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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