Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, among them 41 Grand Slam titles, will try to derail the growing hype surrounding teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz at the French Open from Sunday.
All three are placed in the top-half of the draw, meaning only one Roland Garros will advance to the final.
Defending champion Djokovic will face 13-time winner Nadal in the quarter-finals. Alcaraj is a potential opponent in the semifinals.
“I think I’m always debating whether to fight for a Grand Slam trophy,” said Djokovic, who arrived in Paris after being sacked in January for failing to defend his Australian Open title due to his vaccine status.
“Reviving memories of last year is something that clearly inspires me to try and copy it.”
Djokovic, 35, won his second French Open title in 2021 on Sunday.
In the last-16, Lorenzo came down from two sets to defeat Musetti in a four-set semifinal win against Nadal, before he needed to overcome another two-set deficit to see Stefanos Citcipas in the final. .
Djokovic played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrived in Paris with his sixth Italian Open title, becoming only the fifth person to win 1,000 career matches in the process.
It was his 38th Masters win, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.
Nadal ‘looks good’
Djokovic made his French Open debut against 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.
Nadal has eased concerns about chronic foot problems that resurfaced in Rome last week.
On Wednesday, he practiced in front of thousands of fans at the Roland Garros without any apparent discomfort.
“There is no recovery,” Nadal told reporters on Friday. “What happened in Rome is something that happened often in my practice.”
“It simply came to our notice then. That’s why I’m here. “
Nadal started the year with a 20-match winning run, capturing the second Australian Open title to claim a record 21st Grand Slam, ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.
The 35-year-old holds the record at the French Open, a staggering 105 wins and just three losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.
Djokovic has blamed two of the defeats. One of them came to the wounded semifinals 12 months ago, the pair’s most recent clash with an epic 58-match rival.
“I just watched Rafa practice and it’s funny because all of a sudden his forehand goes just 20 miles per hour. He moves his legs lightly, “said Alexander Xavrevan, the world number three on Friday.
“There’s something on this court that helps him play 30% better, just stay on this court.”
Nadal will face Jordan Thompson of Australia in the first round.
Alcaraz, just 19 years old, has six rockets in the world behind four titles – three on the ground – in 2022.
He won his second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and Zaverev along the way.
“She is, of course, special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz, who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier this year.
Alcaraz was 97 at this time last year.
Nadal was just two years old when he won the first of his 13 French Open titles in 2005, but he made his mark in the 2021 tournament where he qualified for the third round.
Alcaraz, who has 28 wins and just three defeats this year, began his campaign on Sunday against Argentina’s lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero, who is 141st but has made it to the last 16 in 2019.
Russian world number two Daniel Medvedev, who lost a two-set lead to Nadal in the final of the Australian Open, returned to Geneva this week after undergoing hernia surgery.
The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to meet the demand for soil.
At Roland Garros, he was unbeaten in his first four tours before managing to stop the rot through a quarter-final run in 2021.
The Greek world number four Citcipus has enjoyed a tough soil season.
He defended his Monte Carlo title before reaching the last-eight in Barcelona, the semifinals in Madrid and the final in Rome.
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