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Djokovic eyes historical past on the French Open

PARIS: Novak Djokovic will bid for a record-breaking twenty third Grand Slam identify at a French Open with out his previous rival Rafael Nadal for the primary time since 2004, whilst Iga Swiatek makes an attempt to develop into the primary girl to shield the identify in 16 years. Serbian veteran Djokovic might not be the favourite for the identify, even though, after suffering with an elbow damage and failing to get previous the quarter-finals in any of his 3 clay-court occasions up to now this season.

Carlos Alcaraz gained the Barcelona and Madrid Opens en path to taking up from Djokovic as global primary, whilst Daniil Medvedev is seeded 2d for Roland Garros after his maiden clay triumph in Rome. However Djokovic will know it is a large alternative to damage out of his tie with 14-time French Open winner Nadal on the most sensible of the all time record of maximum males’s Slam singles titles. The 2-time champion has misplaced 8 of his 10 French Open conferences with Nadal who’s lacking this 12 months’s version because of a hip damage he suffered on the Australian Open.

Djokovic and Alcaraz are seeded to fulfill within the semi-finals after being positioned in the similar part of the draw. “I felt unhealthy once I pay attention that Rafa used to be no longer ready to play right here in Roland Garros,” mentioned Alcaraz on Friday. “I all the time wish to watch the most productive gamers on the planet taking part in the tournaments.” The 36-year-old Djokovic might also need to get previous Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev within the quarters. The opposite aspect of the draw seems broad open, with in-form Medvedev the very best seed regardless of by no means having up to now were given previous the quarter-finals at the Paris clay.

The Russian misplaced within the first spherical on every of his first 4 visits sooner than making the quarters in 2021. “I additionally don’t wish to put an excessive amount of force on myself, in some way,” mentioned Medvedev. “However what took place in Rome used to be wonderful, particularly beating a large number of excellent gamers.” Danish teenager Holger Rune, who made a wonder run to closing 12 months’s quarter-finals, may face Casper Ruud within the closing 8 in a rematch of a bad-tempered assembly 365 days in the past.

Ruud went directly to be thrashed within the last through Nadal and in addition misplaced the United States Open showpiece fit to Alcaraz. However the Norwegian global quantity 4 has struggled for variety this 12 months, best attaining the quarters in two of the ten tournaments he has performed. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who misplaced the 2021 last to Djokovic after being two units up, can be a few of the most likely contenders however has no longer gained a identify but this time period — the longest he has needed to look forward to a trophy in a season since 2018.

The winner of the ladies’s singles is predicted to be one of the most trio of reigning champion Swiatek, Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. They’ve gained the closing 4 Grand Slam titles between them and a minimum of considered one of them has featured in each and every WTA 1000 last this season. — AFP

Swiatek, who turns 22 throughout the event, would be the favourite as she chases a 3rd Roland Garros triumph and a primary a success girls’s identify protection since Justine Henin gained her 3rd French Open in a row in 2007. The Polish megastar retired from her Italian Open quarter-final in opposition to Rybakina with a thigh damage however educated at Roland Garros on Wednesday. “Happily not anything severe took place, so I had couple of days off,” she mentioned Friday. “I’m nonetheless getting better from the thigh damage, however I’ll be excellent for my first spherical.”

Wimbledon champion Rybakina, ranked fourth, has already gained the Rome and Indian Wells titles in 2023 and may face Swiatek within the Roland Garros semis. “If I play my absolute best, which it’s inconceivable to play each and every time excellent and really feel nice, however I believe needless to say regardless of the skin, if I play my absolute best, I will beat someone,” she mentioned. Different identify hopefuls come with closing 12 months’s runner-up Coco Gauff, Tunisian Ons Jabeur and global quantity 3 Jessica Pegula. — AFP

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