Djokovic, Nadal to disrupt Alcaraz hype at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal to disrupt Alcaraz hype at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal to disrupt Alcaraz hype at French Open

Rafael Nadal (L), Carlos Alcaraz (C), Novak Djokovic (R). (Credits: AFP)


With 41 Grand Slam titles between them, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will try to disrupt the increasing buzz surrounding teenage wonder Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open starting on Sunday.

Because all three are in the top half of the draw, only one will advance to the Roland Garros final.

In the quarter-finals, defending champion Djokovic will meet 13-time winner Nadal. Alcaraz might be a semifinal opponent.

“I feel I am always in contention to fight for any Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic who arrives in Paris fired up by his inability to defend his Australian Open title in January when he was deported over his vaccination status.

“Reliving the memories from last year is something that obviously gives me goosebumps and motivation to try to replicate that.”


Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, won the French Open for the second time in 2021.

He did it the hard way, coming back from two sets down in the last-16 to overcome Lorenzo Musetti, then won a dramatic four-set semi-final against Rafael Nadal before defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic has only competed in five tournaments in 2022, but he arrives in Paris after winning his sixth Italian Open title and becoming only the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches.

It was his 38th Masters victory, two more than Nadal, the all-time leader.


‘I feel better’: Nadal


Djokovic begins his French Open campaign against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who is ranked 94th.

Concerns about Nadal’s chronic foot problem, which returned in Rome last week, have been dismissed.

He practiced in front of thousands of fans at Roland Garros on Wednesday with no apparent pain.

“There is nothing to recover,” Nadal told reporters Friday. “What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices.”

“I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better. That’s why I’m here.”

Nadal started the year with a 20-match winning streak, winning the Australian Open for the second time to win a record 21st Grand Slam, overtaking Djokovic and Roger Federer.


Since his title-winning debut in 2005, the 35-year-old has an astounding 105 wins and only three losses at the French Open.

Two of the losses have been caused by Djokovic. One of them happened a year ago in a tense semi-final, the most recent encounter in the pair’s legendary 58-match rivalry.

“I just watched Rafa practice and it’s funny because all of a sudden his forehand is just 20 miles an hour faster. He moves lighter on his feet,” said world number three Alexander Zverevn on Friday.

“There is something about this court that makes him play 30% better, just being on this court.”

In the first round, Nadal will face Jordan Thompson of Australia.

Alcaraz, who is only 19, has risen to number six in the world after winning four wins in 2022, three of which were on clay.




Alcaraz is special: Djokovic

In Madrid, he won his second Masters title, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic, and Zverev in the process.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 last year at this time.


Nadal won his first of 13 French Opens when he was two years old in 2005, but he made his mark at the 2021 edition, as he advanced through qualifying to the third round.

Alcaraz, who has 28 victories and only three losses this season, will begin his campaign on Sunday against Argentine fortunate loser Juan Ignacio Londero, who is rated 141 but reached the last 16 in 2019.

Daniil Medvedev, the Russian world number two who lost a two-set lead to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action this week in Geneva after undergoing a hernia procedure.

The US Open winner has won 13 times, but he has yet to grasp clay’s demanding demands.

He went winless in his first four outings to Roland Garros before breaking the drought with a quarter-final appearance in 2021.

Tsitsipas, the Greek world number four, has had a strong clay season.


He successfully defended his Monte Carlo championship before reaching the quarterfinals in Barcelona, the semifinals in Madrid, and the final in Rome.


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