Mats Wilander thinks ‘most people’ want Carlos Alcaraz to win French Open over Novak Djokovic

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz joking
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz speak

Tennis great Mats Wilander believes most people involved in tennis will want to see Carlos Alcaraz win the 2023 French Open over Novak Djokovic.

The seven-time major champion also described the 20-year-old star as the “most exciting tennis player that has ever walked on a court”.

Alcaraz is aiming to win a maiden Roland Garros title and second Grand Slam crown, after winning the 2022 US Open.

The Spaniard is the top seed at the Paris major, having overtaken Djokovic to return to world No 1 following the Italian Open. He will face Spanish qualifier Flavio Cobolli in the opening round of the French Open.

Wilander argued Alcaraz’s clay-court preparation, which included title wins in Barcelona and Madrid, has set him up ideally for Roland Garros.

“For Carlos Alcaraz, I think the preparation actually is perfect. Rome wasn’t that great, but he lost because his opponent hit unbelievably hard and played a great match because he (Alcaraz) won in Barcelona and in Madrid,” Wilander told Eurosport.

“I think [his] confidence is very high. He has [had] about two weeks, maybe even slightly more to rest before he starts.”

The former world No 1 also feels that the fans, media and Parisian crowd would want to see Alcaraz win instead of Djokovic – who is aiming to win a record 23rd men’s major.

“The strange thing for Novak Djokovic, for example, is that the crowd, fans, and the media are going to go to Roland-Garros, and of course, everybody wants to witness a record being broken, but I think people want to witness a new champion,” Wilander continued.

“A new 20-year-old player in Carlos, across a new champion at Roland Garros because Novak is coming at a strange time. If it was only Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Sasha Zverev and that generation, I think most people would like to see Novak win.

“But because Carlos is there, I think most people want to see him win because we don’t know what to expect.”

The Swede then discussed the excitement the Spaniard brings to tennis.

“The anticipation level of people when they watch Carlos Alcaraz play – I have never experienced another tennis player where the fans are so enthusiastic about a tennis player, whether it’s a male player or a female player,” Wilander added.

“To me, Carlos Alcaraz seems to be the most exciting tennis player that has ever walked on a tennis court, and maybe more so because we don’t really know if he’s going to be a great champion or he’s going to be stuck maybe just winning the US Open once.”

READ MORE: Former Wimbledon champion feels ‘not one player stands out’ in ‘widest open’ French Open in years