Carlos Alcaraz names his four favourites for Roland Garros
Carlos Alcaraz has named himself as well as the injury-hit Rafael Nadal as part of a quartet who are favourites to be the last man standing at Roland Garros this year.
This year will mark Alcaraz’s third visit to Paris – having lost in the third round during his debut in 2021 and the quarter-final last year – and many believe he is the clear favourite to win this year’s clay-court Grand Slam as he has so far enjoyed a perfect build-up to the French Open.
The world No 2 was asked about the favourites for the French Open and he replied:”I don’t know, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas is there, he’s at a good level, [Novak] Djokovic will always be a favourite, if Rafa goes, it will always be his tournament… I put myself at that level too, I’m at a good level, with confidence and results.”
And he has reason to believe that his level and confidence is at a good level.
After withdrawing from the Monte Carlo Masters due to injury, Alcaraz successfully defended his Barcelona Open crown just over a fortnight ago and he is now just one win away from doing the same at the Madrid Open.
The same cannot be said about the traditional Grand Slam favourites Novak Djokovic and Nadal as they have struggled with injury so far.
Nadal is yet to play a match on clay as he continues to be battle with a hip injury – in fact you have to go back to the Australian Open in mid-January for the last time he played a competitive match. After pulling out of the Italian Open, there are doubts that he will play in Paris.
Djokovic has also had an injury-disrupted clay campaign as he struggled with an elbow injury in Monte Carlo as well as the Srpska Open before opting to skip this week’s Madrid Open in order to rest his arm. The Serbian, though, is set to return at Rome next week and should be fit for Roland Garros.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, reached the quarter-final in Monte Carlo and finished runner-up Alcaraz in Barcelona before again exiting in the quarter-final in Madrid.
Following his semi-final win over Borna Coric in the Spanish capital on Friday, Alcaraz was also asked about gaining respect from his rivals.
“Little by little, I am realizing that I am earning the respect of the players, of the people who are on the circuit,” he said. “Not outside, but on the court I realise that they are having a hard time beating me, I notice that little respect that the best players have earned. I think that, little by little, I am earning it.”
As for being one of the best players in the world – Alcaraz is set to return to No 1 in the ATP Ranking ahead of the French Open as he will overtake Novak Djokovic if he competes in Rome – the 20-year-old is playing down his current status.
“I don’t feel like the best player in the world, I try to think of myself and do my best, but I don’t feel superior to anyone,” he said.
“Tsitsipas lost, but it doesn’t mean I’m the best or that I’m going to win. Struff and Karatsev deserve to be there, but just because I’m number two doesn’t mean I’m going to win the final. We are going to be focused and we are not going to take anything for granted.”
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