Former world No 1 assesses Carlos Alcaraz’s chances of winning 2023 French Open

Shahida Jacobs
Carlos Alcaraz on the move

There is no doubt that Carlos Alcaraz can take down one of Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros this year, but former world No 1 Mats Wilander feels it is highly unlikely that he will be able to beat both at the same event.

After missing the Australian Open due to injury, Alcaraz has returned with a bang as he won the Argentina Open, finished runner-up at the Rio Open and won the Indian Wells Open.

Up next is his title defence at the Miami Open before the attention switches to clay with the red dirt season coming to a culmination at the French Open in June.

World No 1 Alcaraz will no doubt be one of the players to beat at Roland Garros, but he is not the overall favourite as defending champion and King of Clay Nadal will be gunning for a record-extending 15th title with Djokovic expected to be the other major challenger.

Alcaraz, though, will be there or thereabouts and last year he beat Nadal and Djokovic on back-to-back days en route to winning the Madrid Open.

He fell in the quarter-final at Roland Garros, but has improved since then as he went on to win the US Open last year and became world No 1.

Seven-time Grand Slam winner and Eurosport pundit Wilander, though, feels Alcaraz is not quite ready to beat both Nadal and Djokovic at Roland Garros.

“I wonder, with five sets for Alcaraz on a clay court: can he keep coming up with shot after shot, choice after choice. Most of them have to be right against Nadal and Djokovic on the clay court. That is nearly impossible,” he told Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault.

“Obviously, as we haven’t seen it done in the past [anyone beating Nadal and Djokovic in one French Open], at this moment, it is impossible.

“The same way that Nadal learned how to play on a grass court or on faster hard courts, Alcaraz, to me, is going to learn how to figure out the best way to play on a clay court.

“Against the two veterans, Nadal and Djokovic, that is absolutely crucial because they will find that weakness in somebody’s movement or in somebody’s shot. I think for him [Alcaraz], it’s going to be movement. He is too fast for a slippery clay court.

“But yeah, he can beat one of them, he can have a good day, and it could be either of them for sure. But he’s got a little bit of a way to go to me to be a very big threat to win Roland-Garros if he has to play both Nadal and Djokovic.

“Now, of course, one can be injured. Then you only have one player in the final, so I’m not saying he can’t win it. He will win the French Open [one day], but I still want to see how he’s going to find his best clay-court game in five sets in Paris.”

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