Rafael Nadal, who holds the record for most French Open victories with 14, has withdrawn from the upcoming edition of the tournament owing to an injury. After participating in it every year since his Paris debut, the Spaniard will miss his first Roland Garros. Additionally, as recently stated by Novak Djokovic, the Grand Slam championship will be a lot more competitive race this season due to the absence of the competition’s all-time winner.
The tournament is much more competitive without Rafael Nadal because the other players won’t have to compete against the greatest clay court player in history. Additionally, the open race adds to how thrilling this tournament edition is. Here are the top five men’s singles players that have the highest chance of winning the French Open in 2023.
These athletes would aim for the renowned clay court championship in Rafael Nadal’s absence, the 14-time winner and defending champion.
1. Carlos Alcaraz (Spain)
Carlos Alcaraz was hailed as one of the best up-and-coming players before the 2022 French Open, brimming with potential.
With his first Grand Slam victory at the U.S. Open and following victories on clay courts in Barcelona and Madrid, the Spaniard has exceeded all expectations a year later. He also won the title of youngest world number one.
Few would bet against the 20-year-old returning to form in Paris after his shocking elimination from the Italian Open at the hands of qualifier Fabian Marozsan earlier this month. After that, the world number one spoke of the need for a mental reset.
2. Casper Ruud (Norway)
Casper Ruud, the highest-ranked Norwegian tennis player ever, is known for his success on clay courts. Out of his 10 career titles, all but one have been won on clay. He showed his expertise in clay by reaching the finals of the French Open in 2022, where he unfortunately lost to Rafael Nadal, who is considered the best on clay.
The Norwegian is also vying for his first Grand Slam championship, since his career highs are runners-up places at the 2022 US Open and Roland Garros. The 24-year-old may be having trouble with his tennis in the 2023 season, but on a clay court day, he is unbeatable.
3. Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Rafa Nadal’s absence makes Novak Djokovic the favourite to win his third French Open title and add to his record-setting 23 Grand Slam victories.
The former world number one, however, had a less than ideal run-up to the tournament, losing in the quarterfinals in Rome and Banja Luka, as well as being eliminated in the third round in Monte Carlo and having to withdraw from Madrid due to injury.
4. Daniil Medvedev (Russia)
When it comes to clay courts, Daniil Medvedev’s performance hasn’t been particularly remarkable. Since turning professional in 2014, he has only won one major clay court title, which was the ATP Masters 1000 Rome that he recently claimed. In the Roland Garros tournament, his best result so far was reaching the quarter-finals in 2021.
As a result, even though Daniil Medvedev holds the title of World No. 2 and is seeded second in the tournament, we consider him to be the fourth strongest contender for the men’s singles title at the French Open this year.
5. Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece)
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 24-year-old tennis player from Greece, has achieved nine career titles, with four of them being on clay courts. He was also the runner-up in the 2021 French Open. Despite reaching the finals of both the Roland Garros and the Australian Open earlier this year, Tsitsipas is yet to secure a Grand Slam victory. Due to his strong form, he is considered one of the top contenders for the men’s singles title at the French Open.
In the 2023 ATP Tour, Tsitsipas has not yet won any major titles, which makes him even more motivated for success. Winning the prestigious Roland Garros, the most significant clay court title on the ATP Tour, would be a perfect way for him to kickstart his season and achieve his first major victory of the year.