Paris is worth the place - Kommersant

Paris is worth the place - Kommersant

The draw for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season with a total prize pool of €49.6 million, has taken place in Paris and starts on the clay courts of the Roland Garros stadium on Sunday. One of his intrigues is connected with the struggle for leadership in the rating of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). There are two real chances to remove Spaniard Carlos Alcaras from the first place - Russian Daniil Medvedev and Serbian Novak Djokovic.

The decision of the injured Rafael Nadal to miss the current Roland Garros drastically changed the usual balance of power before the start of the men's clay major. Even in unsuccessful seasons for the Spaniard, for example, in 2009, when he lost to the Swede Robin Söderling in the 1/8 finals, or in 2016, when ill health prevented him from reaching the 1/16 final match, Nadal's chances to win the French Open were quoted extremely high. And for the most part, he lived up to expectations, winning 14 finals in Paris over the past 18 years. However, now Nadal is absent from the tournament bracket, and it is still not entirely clear who should be considered the main contender for victory.

But it is known that in addition to the Musketeers Cup - a trophy that is awarded to the winner of the men's Roland Garros - the title of the first racket of the world will also be at stake in Paris.

The fact is that the gaps at the top of the ATP rankings are not too large. Carlos Alcaraz now has 6815 points, Daniil Medvedev has 6330, Novak Djokovic has 5955, and the Spaniard and Serb, as quarter-finalists in 2022, need to defend 360 points each, and the Russian, who was eliminated then round earlier, 180 points. After Alcaraz and Djokovic got into one half of the bracket on Thursday (in other words, they can only meet in the semi-finals), it became clear that at the moment the first place in any of the above three is guaranteed only by the French championship. Other options are also possible: say, Medvedev can rise to the top if he loses in the final not to Alcaraz or Djokovic, but to someone else. Although it makes sense to consider them in more detail already during the tournament.

Alcaraz at the start will play with one of the winners of the qualification.

The titles won by the Spaniard on clay in Barcelona and Madrid seem to indicate that he is the main favorite in Paris.

At the same time, the sensational defeat of the 135th racket of the world Hungarian Fabian Marozhan in the 1/16 finals of the Italian Open tarnished the reputation of Alcaraz, who that day was unlike himself. The reason for that breakdown is still unclear. It's quite possible that this is one of those misunderstandings that happen to even the greatest champions from time to time. But if suddenly Alcaraz has medical problems, just like at the end of last and the beginning of this season, when he missed several important tournaments due to injuries, then in Paris they can appear at any moment. And this will clearly play into the hands of its competitors.

With Djokovic, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, the situation is different. He started the clay season extremely unsuccessfully, and in Rome, on the contrary, he noticeably improved. The 36-year-old veteran did not reach the title there, but compared, for example, with the April tournament in Monte Carlo, he showed a completely different level of play. Considering that the Serb has already won at Roland Garros in 2016 and 2021, and with the hope of winning his 23rd major trophy and surpassing Nadal in this indicator, Djokovic’s main task at the end of his career is connected, it is logical to consider him the number two favorite. Moreover, in dry sunny weather - and the weather forecast for the first week of the tournament is good - Djokovic, who will meet in the first round with an American of Yugoslav origin Aleksandar Kovacevic, used to work very well on clay.

The prospects for Medvedev, who was seeded second in Paris, also look promising. He spends his best clay series, and a magnificent victory in Rome was perhaps the most striking revelation of the entire tennis year.

Of course, the excellent form that the Russian showed in Italy still needs to be maintained, but judging by the five titles won since February, Medvedev knows how to do it.

In the first round, he, like Alcaraz, got an opponent from the qualification, and the winner of this pair will go to the Frenchman Quenten Alice or the Argentine Guido Pellew. Certain difficulties for Medvedev in the early days are probably possible, but so far his fans have no strong reasons for concern. You can even say that the draw was successful for him.

Evgeny Fedyakov

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