Potentially no Sinner, no Alcaraz and a weary Rafa – will this be Novak’s easiest run to a French Open crown?


After a double fault saw Novak Djokovic exit the Monte Carlo Masters to Casper Ruud at the semi-final stage, the Serbian’s hopes of a fourth French Open title seemed to be ebbing away.

While he will still need to improve massively on his performance against the Norwegian in the first Master’s 1000 tournament of the clay season, the door looks as though it has been opened slightly wider for the world No.1 ahead of Roland Garros.

Djokovic plays his first match of the Italian Open on Friday and the Serb should go into his first match in Rome confident in picking up a seventh title, with both Carlos Alcaraz and Italian Jannik Sinner pulling out due to injury.

Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the 2023 French Open. (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Sinner would have relished the chance to play in front of his home fans but after pulling out of the Madrid Open, the Australian Open champion has declared that he may not be available for Roland Garros and will only play if his hip is recovered and he feels 100 per cent.

Alcaraz lost to eventual winner Andrey Rublev in the Madrid Open and has now withdrawn from playing in Rome due to an arm injury. The Spaniard looked like a potential favourite to finally get his hands on the Musketeer’s Cup but is now looking as though he could be out of the French Open entirely.

If Alcaraz does make it back in time to play in Paris, there is a chance he won’t be able to perform at his absolute best.

Monte-Carlo 2023 ????
Madrid 2024 ????

Amazing display from Andrey Rublev this week ????#MMOPEN pic.twitter.com/8G3rNWwbAN

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 5, 2024

This now gives Djokovic a much stronger chance of success at Roland Garros. A dominant performance at the Italian Open would give him some much-needed momentum ahead of the most important clay tournament in tennis.

The Serbian’s performance against Ruud in Monte Carlo was hugely disappointing, with Djokovic looking a shadow of the player he was last year.

It now looks as though the younger players are on the precipice of leaving Djokovic behind but in a Grand Slam, Sinner and Alcaraz are the most likely to step up to the mantle and beat the man who has won more majors than any other male player in history.

Djokovic is very difficult to defeat in majors and Ruud’s win in Monte Carlo may not translate if the pair meet in the latter stages of Roland Garros. Stefanos Tsitsipas is another who is strong on clay, going all the way in Monte Carlo but is another who has shown that when it comes to the big tournaments he can wilt, especially to Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal can’t be overlooked but it would take a monumental effort for him to win Roland Garros. He looks in decline and it is hard to imagine his body allowing him to play a high enough standard of tennis to beat multiple top-ten players in best-of-five set matches.

Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Whether or not Ruud and Tsitsipas, who have both lost in the final of the French Open to Djokovic, have matured and developed enough to go one step further and reach the promised land remains to be seen, but the absence of Sinner and Alcaraz could be where the victory lies for Novak Djokovic.

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If he is successful, Djokovic will have a quarter of a century’s worth of Grand Slams and will set another record, as the only player to have completed the career Grand Slam four times over.

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