The Roland Garros 2022 men’s draw has toppled the scales of balance as the heavyweight talent of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz have all landed on one side of the tournament.
On the women’s side, world number one Iga Swiatek, currently the hottest player in the sport, finds herself in the same quarter with two other former Roland Garros champions and two previous semifinalists. All her amazing results this year have gifted her with not an easy draw. That’s the way the luck tumbles sometimes.
The way the draws have shaken out once again raises the question of whether Grand Slams should use special, surface-specific rankings or simply continue to go with the ATP and WTA rankings, which can produce loaded matchups overly early in the tournament.
French Open Seeding
13-time French Open champion Nadal could meet 2-time titleist Djokovic as early as the quarterfinals. The 6-seed Alcaraz, who has produced the best results on the ATP Tour this year, would project to meet Nadal or Djokovic in the semifinals, not the final. It seems like the real blockbusters are happening before the finals.
And oh by the way. Seeded number 3, Alexander Zverev also landed in this champion-laden side of the draw. The reason for the imbalance is that world number 2 Daniil Medvedev, who has mediocre results on clay in comparison to his record on hard courts, sits on the opposite side of the men’s draw because of his ranking.
Who benefits from the imbalance? World number 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has proven results on clay and has worked himself into peak fitness over the course of the 2022 clay campaign. This is a major opportunity for Stef. He just lost to Djokovic in the final of Rome, and last year memorably lost to the Serbian superstar in the Roland Garros final. If Tsitsipas can learn from those losses, he has a shot to pull off something special in a 1-match scenario. Objectively, Tsitsipas has an easier draw.
It was because of Nadal’s injured foot and lackluster clay results this season that his ranking slipped to 5, putting him in this predicament. But it’s pretty much a guarantee Djokovic isn’t too stoked about the prospect of having to play potentially Rafa and Carlitos before the final, either. Not that these champions typically complain. They play who is in front of them and soldier on, leaving the fans to grumble and moan.
French Open Live Odds
At the time of the draws on Thursday, Djokovic had edged Alcaraz as the favorite to win Roland Garros. Nadal, the best clay court player in tennis history, fell back to 3rd. On the women’s side, Swiatek was the heavy favorite, followed by 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep. The live odds are getting more attention this year due to the uncertainty surrounding Nadal and the overwhelming obviousness that Swiatek, who won in 2020, would be the favorite. Last year’s champion, Barbora Krejcikova, didn’t play any clay court tournaments this year due to an elbow injury but is currently entered in Paris.
Roland Garros Men’s Draw Analysis
If it were possible to “short” a player, I’d short (the very tall) Daniil Medvedev. He’s coming off a hernia surgery, last week lost to Richard Gasquet in his first match back, doesn’t perform well historically on clay and has personal stress due to his home country of Russia invading Ukraine. Meddy also doesn’t have a huge body of work in 5-set matches. Players who might benefit from being in the Medvedev section include Miomir Kecmanovic, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev.
Seemingly the only player in the Tsitsipas section who might give the Greek fits is lefty Denis Shapovalov, who has proven he can trouble the best in the world with his freewheeling style of play. Though the Canadian holds the edge 3-1 in head-to-head, Tsitsipas beat Denis in straights in their one meeting on clay.
It’s hard to pick against Alcaraz in his quarter, and so I won’t. That said, a fun potential re-match pits Carlitos against Sebastian Korda, who upset the Spaniard on clay at Monte Carlo in April. That said, Alcaraz was jet-lagged and tired having just won Miami. Style-wise, the movement of Alcaraz also matches favorably with the lanky Zverev, who continues to struggle with a spotty second serve.
Finally, in the alluring Djokovic – Nadal quarter, Rafa has managed to scare his fans into thinking he has no shot to contend because of the painful foot. And yet he’s here in Paris. The biggest problem for Nadal is not the injury but the sublime recent clay prowess of defending the Roland Garros champion. Djokovic has cemented his serve and forehand and seems in tip-top physical condition to fight for Grand Slam number 21.
My players du jour:
QF: Djokovic, Alcaraz, Kecmanovic, Tsitsipas
SF: Djokovic, Tsitsipas
Roland Garros Women’s Draw Analysis
Iga Swiatek, with her five WTA titles in 2022 (and it’s only May), is the clear favorite to come out of her section. The only potential thorn– albeit a very prickly one– is 2017 French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko. The firey Latvian is one of the few players to beat Iga this year, when she eeked out a 3-set win in Dubai. I don’t see the Pole letting that happen again, but it’s a doggone intriguing matchup and one entertaining enough to set your alarm for.
The second quarter is fairly open. American Danielle Collins has shown flashes of determination by beating Halep in Rome and performs well on clay despite her flat hitting. 7-seed Aryna Sabalenka is not my favorite, only because a check of the Paris forecast doesn’t show overly hot conditions, so her big serving would be mitigated. The 3-seed Badosa is in this quarter, but the Spaniard has had a disappointing clay season in 2022. Collins and Badosa have never played, so that could be a good one.
On the other side of the draw, emerging star Ons Jabeur, who won Madrid and reached the finals of Rome has to be the favorite in this section if for no other reason than she’s earned it. Jabeur has shown her variety and consistency on clay, including a vexing drop shot. Amanda Anisimova is also a strong contender.
Finally, the most interesting quarter of the Roland Garros women’s draw features Krejcikova, former Roland Garros Champion (from back in the day, 2016) Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka and Coco Gauff. I have favored Gauff dozens of times, and she has produced a few disappointing results this season. She might be suffering from a temporary crisis of confidence, because she certainly has the strokes suited for clay.
My players du jour:
QF: Swiatek, Collins, Jabeur, Gauff
SF: Swiatek, Jabeur