The six French Open men’s favourites, featuring Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic pose

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are among the leading contenders to win the 2023 French Open in Rafael Nadal’s absence.

This will be the first edition of the tournament without 14-time champion Nadal since 2004. The legendary Spaniard’s withdrawal due to a hip injury presents an opportunity for the rest of the men’s field.

Only Roger Federer (2009), Stan Wawrinka (2015) and Djokovic (2016 and 2021) have triumphed at Roland Garros since Nadal claimed his maiden Roland Garros crown in 2005.

Here, we look at the six strongest contenders to win this year’s French Open.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic in action
Novak Djokovic hits a backhand

While the ‘King of Clay’ will be missing, title hopefuls will still have to stop the only other man to win 22 Grand Slam titles. As well as lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires twice, Djokovic has lost in the final on four other occasions. However, the Serbian’s preparation has been far from ideal – with concern over an elbow problem and struggles to find his best level during the clay-court season.

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid
Carlos Alcaraz lifts the Madrid Open trophy

Despite Nadal’s absence, Spain have another phenomenon in the form of US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, who reclaimed the world No 1 ranking from Djokovic this week. A third round defeat at the Italian Open to Fabian Marozsan was a shock, but the 20-year-old was supreme in winning titles in Barcelona and Madrid and is firmly in the frame for a second Grand Slam title.

Holger Rune

Holger Rune
Holger Rune plays a shot

Rising Dane Holger Rune is another contender to triumph in Paris after his runner-up showings in Monte Carlo and Rome and a successful title defence in Munich. The 20-year-old has soared into the top 10 over the last six months and already boasts two wins over Djokovic. Fearless and comfortable with riling up opponents or the crowd, Rune looks a major champion in the making.

Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev with Italian Open trophy
Daniil Medvedev with the Italian Open trophy

Daniil Medvedev has been no lover of clay for much of his career, but the confidence he has carried from an excellent season has translated to the red dirt. This culminated in his maiden Masters 1000 crown on clay with victory in Rome on Sunday. The mercurial Russian has won more matches than any other man so far this season and will be seeded second in Paris.

Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner celebrates
Jannik Sinner applauds fans

Jannik Sinner’s emergence at the top of the game was somewhat overshadowed by Alcaraz’s even more rapid ascent but their rivalry has been a tonic to a sport adjusting to the loss of its aging superstars. This year has seen the big-hitting Italian establish himself in the top 10 and a Grand Slam breakthrough may not be too far away.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas in action
Stefanos Tsitsipas hits a forehand

Stefanos Tsitsipas has not been at his very best since reaching the Australian Open final in January, but the 2021 French Open runner-up should not be written off on his favourite surface. While he has not won a title this season, the 24-year-old has reached the final of the Barcelona Open and the last four of the Italian Open during his clay campaign.

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