Medvedev and Rybakina suffer shock exits, while Alcaraz, Djokovic and Swiatek look as dominant as ever. But what is left in store for us at this year’s Roland Garros?
So far, the 2023 French Open has not disappointed.
There has been a brilliant mixture of upsets from outsiders, and dominant performances from the favourites.
But with the quarter-final stage now upon us, which players have looked the most likely to prevail as champion.
The early shock of the tournament came when number two seed Daniil Medvedev fell to Thiago Seyboth Wild in the first round. Many people thought that with his recent victory in Rome, Medvedev’s clay court game had turned a corner.
However, his Roland Garros demons came back to haunt him, as he fell in five sets. Medvedev’s departure resulted in a huge opening in his quarter of the draw, providing a great opportunity for Dimitrov, Zverev, Nishioka or Etcheverry to make the semi-finals.
Both Alcaraz and Djokovic have shown remarkable form, with Alcaraz’s performances against Shapovalov and Musetti being particularly spectacular.
The young Spaniard will have to overcome 2021 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, in what promises to be one of the matches of the tournament. Djokovic meanwhile, will have to overcome Khachanov, who hasn’t beaten the Serb since 2018.
If both men overcome their respective challengers, then we have a semi-final of monumental proportions to look forward to.
Casper Ruud and Holger Rune are set to meet in another extraordinary quarter-final, the winner of which will be the favourite to go onto the final from that half of the draw.
The matches of the quarter-finals to look out for will undoubtedly be Rune and Ruud, and Alcaraz and Tsitsipas.
As for the ladies draw, Iga Swiatek has been in imperious form so far in the tournament. The world number one hasn’t dropped a set, and has won four sets 6-0 in her four matches. It looks as if the injury which led to her retirement from Rome is a thing of the past. Her meeting with Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals (a repeat of last year’s final) promises to be the match of the tournament so far.
Swiatek will have been extremely relieved to see the withdrawal from the tournament of one of her biggest challengers for the title, Elena Rybakina. The Rome Masters champion had to withdraw from her third-round match due to illness.
The other favourite for the title, Aryna Sabalenka has been in similar form to Swiatek, potentially hinting at their meeting in the final. This year’s Australian Open champion has already produced her best run at Roland Garros, reaching the quarter-finals after beating Sloane Stevens.
Sabalenka will have to face Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals who has looked fantastic at times during this tournament, beating last year’s semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.
Perhaps one of the surprise packages of the tournament has been Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who, despite having made the final at Roland Garros in 2021, is ranked 333rd in the world. Pavlyuchenkova has beaten three seeded players already on her way to the quarter-finals.
Much like Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur has also had her best performance at Roland Garros this year. Jabeur may potentially meet Swiatek in the semi-finals, although she will have to get past Beatriz Haddad Maia who beat Sara Sorribes Tormo in an incredible match which lasted nearly four hours.
Who will be crowned champion?
In the absence of Rafael Nadal, it seems that the players in the men’s draw have upped their games.
Djokovic and Alcaraz have looked the most likely to go on to become champion, their potential meeting in the semi-finals may well decide the outcome of the tournament.
It is a shame that Alcaraz and Djokovic couldn’t meet in the final, but I do believe that with the form shown, it will be one of those two against Casper Ruud in the final.
In the women’s draw it seems that no one has the answer to Swiatek’s dominance on clay. Gauff will give her a worthy challenge in the quarter-finals, but overall, I believe the world number one’s game is too strong and she will prevail as champion, potentially against Sabalenka in the final.
Regardless, there is still a lot of tennis to be played before the 2023 Roland Garros champions are crowned.