HomeSportsFrench Open 2023 Men's preview: Rafael Nadal looms large despite absence

French Open 2023 Men’s preview: Rafael Nadal looms large despite absence

Rafael Nadal’s absence will loom large at the 2023 French Open. He’s played in every one since 2005, winning 14(!!) along the way. Would Roland Garros feel the same without him?

It would, but it would be hard to deny that something is missing. Nadal is beloved around the world not only because of his tennis skills, but also because he has always been grateful, generous and kind to his fans. The Roland Garros crowd loves him almost more than the French players.

Nadal’s absence is painful for another reason as well. It’s a look into the future, when Nadal is finished playing for good. He announced that 2024 would likely be his last year on tour, which at least gives him a chance to win his incredible 15th French Open trophy.

Without Nadal, tennis would lose a bit of shine. a little less happy. a little less fun But he has picked an incredible time to bow out, as several young, exciting and fun players are poised to step into the limelight. There is no way to replace Nadal, but without him tennis would not be what it is today. He has inspired many young players of today to take up the game and keep trying. He may be gone, but we will still see parts of him on the court whenever the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Holger Roon play. That’s the beauty of tennis: Nobody’s ever really gone.

Rafael Nadal has won 14 French Open trophies, which is why his absence from Roland Garros, his favorite Grand Slam, will be felt deeply. (Photo Meng Dingbo/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Who to watch at the French Open

Carlos Alcaraz

This time last year, Alcaraz was on a roll. He broke out in a big way, winning four tournaments in three months (including his first ATP 500 and ATP 1000 trophies). He arrived at Roland Garros as the media darling and presumptive winner before a single ball had been served. He made it to the quarterfinals, which was seen as a bit of a disappointment. But now Alcaraz is a year older (he just turned 20) and has another year of high-level experience under his belt, as well as his maiden Grand Slam trophy. He also had the last two weeks off after being knocked out of the Italian Open in the opening round, so he was going to be very, very well rested in his Roland Garros debut.

Novak Djokovik

What else can anyone say about Djokovic at this point? It seems inevitable that he will end the tie between himself and Nadal and win his 23rd Grand Slam, but right now it seems that people are waiting for him to patch up somewhere. It’s hard to tell with him, but victories haven’t come as easily or as frequently as they used to. He has won two tournaments this year (the Australian Open and an ATP 250 tournament in Adelaide), but both were in January. Since then, he played in four tournaments and made early round exits in two of them. But Djokovic knows how to perform in the majors. He is always a threat, which none of his competitors ever forget.

Daniil Medvedev

With so much focus on Alcaraz and Djokovic, Medvedev could be the dark horse to win the French Open. It’s a strange, but accurate, statement about the world’s No. 2 male tennis player. Medvedev has been a hard court specialist, but in May he won his first clay court trophy at the Italian Open. And this is in addition to winning three consecutive tournaments in March. It is surprising that Medvedev only has one Grand Slam trophy, but improving on clay could help him win another.

Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev won the Italian Tennis International at the Foro Italico.  Rome (Italy), May 21, 2023.
Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev won the Italian Tennis International at the Foro Italico. Rome (Italy), May 21, 2023.

casper rood

It was a breakout year for Rudd in 2022. He was on the losing end of Nadal’s 14th French Open trophy, and was also the runner-up at the US Open a few months later. Two finals in one year is the breakout he was looking for – prior to 2022, Rude had never progressed past the fourth round at a Grand Slam. But 2023 has been a bit turbulent. She had a terrible hardcourt season, going 5-6, before bouncing back during the clay season. Rude has won nine of his 10 ATP singles titles on clay, so this was just what he needed to get back on track. Unfortunately, he is heading to Roland Garros just days after failing to defend his title at the Geneva Open, losing to Nicolas Jarry in the quarterfinals.

other notable

Frances Tiafoe He’s had better luck on hard courts (never past the second round at Roland Garros), but after his incredible breakout in late 2022, he’s seen as a contender (or at least a spoiler) from here on should go .

Stefanos Tsitsipas Djokovic has now lost two Grand Slam finals: the 2021 French Open and the 2023 Australian Open. After Nadal’s exit, it might be the right time for Tsitsipas to put an end to Djokovic’s demons.

Who won’t be at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal

No one, including Nadal, thought that the hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open in January would still bother him five months later. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. Nadal has not played since his second-round defeat in Melbourne and recently admitted that 2024 is likely to be his last year on tour. Playing at Roland Garros means a lot to him, and it’s really disappointing that he won’t be there.

Nick Kyrgios

Kyrgios is missing the French Open for the most Nick Kyrgios reason ever: He injured his knee while chasing down a man who stole his mom’s Tesla.

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