Djokovic, Nadal bid to derail Alcaraz hype at French Open

Alcaraz Djokovic

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz (L) and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic hug on the finish of their 2022 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis match males’s singles semi-final match on the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 7, 2022. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, will try and derail the rising hype surrounding teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz on the French Open from Sunday.

All three have been positioned within the top-half of the draw, that means just one will make the Roland Garros ultimate.

Defending champion Djokovic is seeded to face 13-time winner Nadal within the quarterfinals. Alcaraz is a possible semifinal opponent.

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

“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, captured a second French Open title in 2021.

He did it the arduous means, coming from two units all the way down to beat Lorenzo Musetti within the last-16, profitable an epic four-set semi-final towards Nadal earlier than needing to overturn one other two-set deficit to see off Stefanos Tsitsipas within the ultimate.

Djokovic has performed solely 5 tournaments in 2022 however arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, turning into simply the fifth man to win 1,000 profession matches within the course of.

It was his thirty eighth Masters triumph, two greater than Nadal on the prime of the all-time listing.

Nadal ‘feels better’

Djokovic begins his French Open towards 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Nadal has performed down issues over the continual foot difficulty that resurfaced in Rome final week.

On Wednesday, he practiced in entrance of hundreds of followers at Roland Garros with none apparent discomfort.

“There is nothing to recover,” Nadal instructed 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 yr with a 20-match profitable run, capturing a second Australian Open title to assert a file twenty first Grand Slam and transfer forward of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The 35-year-old’s file on the French Open stands at a staggering 105 wins and simply three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

Djokovic has been accountable for two of these defeats. One of these got here within the bruising semi-final 12 months in the past, the latest conflict of the pair’s epic 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,” stated world quantity three Alexander Zverevn on Friday.

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

Nadal takes on Australia’s Jordan Thompson within the first spherical.

Alcaraz, simply 19, has rocketed to 6 on the planet on the again of 4 titles — three on clay — in 2022.

‘Special’ Alcaraz

He gained a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev on the way in which.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who additionally claimed the distinguished Miami Masters earlier within the yr.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time final yr.

He was solely two when Nadal gained the primary of his 13 French Opens in 2005 however he made his mark on the 2021 match the place he got here by qualifying to achieve the third spherical.

Alcaraz, who has 28 wins and simply three defeats this yr, opens his marketing campaign on Sunday towards Argentine fortunate loser Juan Ignacio Londero, ranked at 141 however who made the final 16 in 2019.

Russian world quantity two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets result in lose to Nadal within the Australian Open ultimate, solely returned to motion in Geneva this week after present process a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his identify however has but to grasp the draining calls for of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first 4 visits earlier than managing to cease the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Greek world quantity 4 Tsitsipas has loved a stable clay season.

He defended his Monte Carlo title earlier than making the last-eight in Barcelona, semi-finals in Madrid and ultimate in Rome.

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