Here are the top five men's singles contenders as Roland Garros gets ready for an unusual tournament without Rafael Nadal.
The men's singles competition has become unpredictable as a result of Rafael Nadal's decision to withdraw from the 2023 French Open owing to injury, making it one of the most unpredictable editions in over two decades. A new generation, however, lead by world number one Carlos Alcaraz, is prepared to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Since his first triumph in 2005, Nadal has won the clay-court Grand Slam event a record 14 times. He gave his withdrawal to a persistent hip problem that has hampered his season since the Australian Open.
Here are the five leading candidates to win the men's singles title at the French Open in 2023 as Roland Garros gears up for a unique edition sans the 22-time major champion:
CARLOS ALCARAZ (SPAIN)
Carlos Alcaraz was hailed for his prowess and was everyone's favourite up-and-comer before to the 2022 French Open.
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 one year later. He also gained the title of youngest world leader.
Few would bet on the 20-year-old returning to form in Paris following his shocking elimination from the Italian Open at the hands of qualifier Fabian Marozsan earlier this month. following that, the world number one spoke of the need for a mental reset.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SERBIA)
Rafa Nadal's absence makes Novak Djokovic the favourite to win his third French Open crown and add to his record-setting 23 Grand Slam victories.
The former world number one, however, had a less than perfect run up to the competition, losing in the quarterfinals of Rome and Banja Luka, as well as being eliminated in the third round of Monte Carlo and having to withdraw from Madrid due to injury.
HOLGER RUNE (DENMARK)
Rune reached the finals in Monte Carlo, Rome, and Munich, where he won his fourth career title while dropping only one set. Rune won three singles titles last season and has been in excellent form during his clay court appearances.
The Dane, who is only 20 years old, has a strong resume and has defeated Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud, and Stefanos Tsitsipas on clay courts, making him a formidable contender in the competition.
Daniel Medvedev (Russia)
Although Medvedev has always claimed that clay is his least preferred playing surface, the Russian may be persuaded to reconsider after winning his maiden clay-court championship at the Italian Open this month.
The 27-year-old put on a magnificent performance to defeat Denmark's Rune 7-5, 7-5 in Rome, demonstrating his noticeable progress on clay. This victory suggests the former world number one may now have the resources necessary to prevail in Paris.
CASPER RUUD (NORWAY)
A memorable 2022 for Casper Ruud with second-place results at the French Open, U.S. Open, and ATP Finals. The Norwegian looked poised to win his first Grand Slam title this year, but Ruud's season got off to a less-than-stellar start after he lost in the second round of the Australian Open and failed to win back-to-back matches on hard courts in the first three months.
With a championship triumph in Estoril in April and a run to the semifinals in Rome, he has reason to feel that his form has significantly improved in clay court competitions.