Daniil Medvedev and Cameron Norrie are 2023’s clay court dark horses who could cause a French Open upset
Three men are considered strong favourites for the French Open crown, and two of those are all-time greats, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The third man who joins them as French Open favourites is Nadal’s young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcaraz was brilliant on clay last term, winning titles at home events in Madrid and Barcelona after his breakthrough in Rio.
His run to the US Open title means he has the experience of winning a slam behind him, and of all players, he is favoured as the strongest shot at breaking the dominance of Nadal and Djokovic.
Another player who isn’t a dark horse on clay is 2021 Roland Garros finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has the game to win titles on the surface, although questions remain about whether he has the temperament to win a Grand Slam.
A couple of players who haven’t traditionally been strong on clay have laid down some performances that suggest they could make a serious French Open push.
Those two men are former World No 1 and hard court expert Daniil Medvedev and British No 1 Cameron Norrie.
Norrie has taken a peculiar pathway on the ATP Tour this season, following up a Davis Cup appearance in Colombia, on clay, by taking part in the South American swing which includes the earliest clay events on the ATP Tour schedule.
Those events in South America not only gave Norrie the chance to turn out on clay a lot sooner than most but also served to boost his confidence on a surface that, while unfamiliar, could suit elements of his game down to the ground.
Starting in the Davis Cup tie against Colombia, Norrie went on a five match winning streak on clay that was only ended by a returning Alcaraz in the Buenos Aires final.
Norrie would also get that championship match defeat back when he defeated the US Open champion in Rio to deny him the defence of his title.
That win was Norrie’s first ATP 500 championship and means he has now won titles at every level except a Grand Slam.
It also meant that Norrie put together two five-match winning runs on clay this season and has shown himself capable of hanging with the best players on the surface.
Medvedev is another player not known for his clay court prowess who could surprise this season.
The lopsided nature of Medvedev’s championship record is well documented as are the reasons for it.
Medvedev’s defensive game is best suited to quicker courts, while his reluctance to get forward has been his downfall on grass while he also plays a little too far behind the baseline to be great on clay.
However, Medvedev is a player, like Norrie, who is learning and growing and his run at Indian Wells suggests he might prove a tough nut to crack at the French Open this season.
Indian Wells has played even slower than usual, which hasn’t thrilled Medvedev but he has still dealt with it to keep his winning streak going.
A few deep runs in the lead-up to the French Open might just give Medvedev the boost he needs to mount a major challenge in Paris.
‘Novak Djokovic can win the Golden Slam but there are reasons not to do it’, assesses top coach
Novak Djokovic’s 2024 Golden Slam prospects have been analysed.
Rafael Nadal makes honest confession as he discusses comeback expectations
Rafael Nadal has openly discussed his expectations ahead of his 2024 comeback.
Novak Djokovic facing a double threat to his status as world No 1 – but not from Jannik Sinner
Novak Djokovic will need to maintain his remarkable levels of brilliance to hang onto top spot in the rankings.
‘Carlos Alcaraz cannot achieve great results in a diesel mode like Novak Djokovic’, says former ATP star
A former world No 12 has spoken of a “diesel mode” he feels Novak Djokovic possesses.
The 10 biggest ATP Rankings rises in 2023: American star makes stunning 500-place surge
A look at the top 10 biggest movers in the 2023 ATP Rankings.
Toni Nadal makes admission about 2024 French Open belief Rafael Nadal holds
Toni Nadal has spoken about his nephew Rafael Nadal ahead of his comeback.
When will Emma Raducanu make her comeback and where will she be ranked?
Emma Raducanu has been training at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre recently, but her comeback date is unclear.
Cameron Norrie gives five reasons why Carlos Alcaraz is a better player than Jannik Sinner in feisty interview
British No 1 Cameron Norrie gave a compelling insight into the best two young players.
Novak Djokovic heads final UTR rankings of 2023 as two big names miss out on top 10 spot
While the official ATP rankings will always carry plenty of weight, the UTR rankings offers an alternative list.
Legendary coach disagrees with Boris Becker’s comments about Carlos Alcaraz
“I’m still putting my money on [Carlos Alcaraz] next year as a contender for every Grand Slam with [Novak] Djokovic.”