The void left from the absence of Rafael Nadal in the 2023 Roland Garros draw will soon be filled with drama and intrigue over the most open French Open in decades. The men’s side of Roland Garros presents a major opportunity in one particular quarter– because the recent form of Casper Ruud is lagging behind his 4th seeding.
On the women’s side, there’s no such problem. The stars have finally lined up to their rightful place under the Paris sky. After weeks of playing better than her ranking due to no points awarded at Wimbledon, Elena Rybakina presides over her own bracket in this 2023 Roland Garros draw.
The Alcaraz Quarter
World number one Carlos Alcaraz has received a favorable draw. The Spanish phenom is rested, having surprisingly departed Rome early, but make no mistake. Alcaraz has had an exemplary clay campaign, and the rest will give the Spaniard a chance to recharge his considerable Energizer battery.
However, the biggest reason this 2023 Roland Garros draw is so sweet for Alcaraz? The next highest seed in his quarter is Stefanos Tsitsipas. While the Greek star is typically sublime on clay, Tsitsipas has had a slight dip in level and in ranking. He continues to spar with his family of coaches during matches. And finally, Alcaraz owns the head-to-head with Tsitsipas 4-0. Carlitos is the puzzle Stef has yet to solve, even in their practice sessions.
Elsewhere in this section, we find a list of players uncharacteristically out of sorts including Sebastian Korda, Diego Schwartzman and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Lucky for Alcaraz.
The Djokovic Quarter
Two-time French Open champion and Big 3 member Novak Djokovic looks to ignore any nagging injuries and find his best stuff in this rare opportunity at a Roland Garros without Rafa. Djokovic has drawn a somewhat trickier wicket than Alcaraz, but it’s doable nonetheless.
Novak’s first round match is a fascinating story. Aleksandar Kovacevic is a New York City-born son of table tennis pros who immigrated from the former Yugoslavia. Kovacevic speaks fluent Serbian and idolizes Djokovic. It’s a feel-good deal and just the type of thing Novak would welcome to start a tournament. Both players will enjoy the match, and Djokovic will come through as the winner in a great mood.
Outside of Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina, who’s a fiery, resilient pest on this surface, the Djokovic quarter is mainly filled with good hard-court players, including Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz. Advantage Novak.
Also of note: Djokovic could possibly exact some revenge on the player who ousted him from the Roland Garros draw in 2018– Italian Marco Cecchinato. If both players advance, they’d meet in the 3rd round. Intriguing!
The Ruud Quarter
The player who stands to benefit from Ruud’s oddly poor clay form is Danish sensation Holger Rune. The 20-year-old had a strong clay season leading up to this 2023 Roland Garros draw. Rune and Ruud are on opposite ends of this quarter. The Dane recently bested the Norwegian in 3 sets in Rome.
This is tricky, however. Rune has been known to cramp. Roland Garros is a grind. Rune actually has a tough opening round match against popular American Chris Eubanks. And a totally different type of player– Argentine slow-court specialist Francisco Cerundolo– lurks in this section. If Taylor Fritz advances, that match would be no picnic for Rune in the Round of 16. One wonders about Rune’s patience in the slog days of this tournament.
Every few years, Paris delivers an unusually warm and dry tournament. If the forecasters are correct, this is one of those years. If the clay bakes, it’s a slight advantage to the big servers. In this section, a hot-serving Fritz could edge out a tired Rune.
The Medvedev Quarter
This is the toughest section of the 2023 Roland Garros Draw. All jokes aside, Daniil Medvedev has proven himself to be a quality clay court player by winning Rome. But this is best of five. Stamina will be a major issue, especially after playing his heart out in Rome.
Other top players in this quarter include Jannik Sinner, Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev. If he’s healthy– and with experienced Roland Garros coach Darren Cahill in his corner– this could be Sinner’s time to break out. Sinner skipped Madrid with injuries. He got just the right amount of prep in Rome with 3 matches. From a cardio conditioning standpoint, Sinner is in excellent shape.
Players to watch:
QF: Alcaraz, Djokovic, Fritz, Sinner
SF: Alcaraz, Sinner
Women’s tennis has hit a Goldilocks moment again after the retirements of Maria Sharapova, Ash Barty and Serena Williams. Three emerging stars now possess Grand Slam trophies, and they are healthy and poised to strike in the 2023 Roland Garros draw.
The Swiatek Quarter
Defending Roland Garros champion Iga Swaitek has a manageable draw. She got lucky because Coco Gauff bookends this quarter, and Iga has Coco’s number to the tune of a 6-0 head-to-head. As a tennis fan, this isn’t a fun match-up. Gauff has to try something dramatically different or the result will be the same.
For Swiatek, there are actually a few significant names before it would reach that point, including former Roland Garros champion Barbara Krejcikova, Rome finalist Anhelina Kalinina and Veronika Kudermetova. But it shouldn’t be too tough for the world number one, who has captured this tournament twice and loves Paris.
The Rybakina Quarter
Rome champion Elena Rybakina got a beauty of a draw because Ons Jabeur has been injured and Petra Kvitova doesn’t love clay. If the cool cucumber Rybakina can stay patient with her groundstrokes and benefit from some easy early round matches, she can win her quarter.
However, Lena should watch out for Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Spaniard will grind you to a pulp on clay.
If it goes to chalk, this would set up a semifinal with Swiatek and Rybakina, which to some would feel more like the final. S’ok, though. There’s massive quality on the other half of this 2023 Roland Garros draw.
The Pegula Quarter
4th seeded American Jessica Pegula drew the toughest path. Maria Sakkari is a very adept clay court player, and the Greek will be hungry. Pegula has an opener against the dogfight-specialist Danielle Collins, then has an uncomfortable match between the winner of Alize Cornet and Camila Giorgi.
If Jess can keep her head in a possible second-round match against hometown girl Cornet, with the French crown in full effect, she will show she has the chops to come through.
The Sabalenka Quarter
Again, if the heat is on in Paris, big-serving Aryna Sabalenka should excel. It really doesn’t get tricky for her until midway through week 2.
It’s really hard to know what former champ Jelena Ostapenko, who’s also in the quarter, will bring to this tournament. In a power match between Sabalenka and Ostapenko, Aryna’s vastly improved consistency would likely give her an advantage.
Players to watch:
QF: Swiatek, Rybakina, Pegula, Sabalenka
SF: Rybakina, Sabalenka