Alcaraz, Djokovic could meet in blockbuster French Open semifinal

Paris, May 25 (EFE).- Spanish world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and Serbian two-time champion Novak Djokovic could meet in a mouthwatering semifinal clash after being placed in the same half of this year’s French Open men’s singles at Thursday’s draw ceremony.

The 20-year-old Alcaraz will face a qualifier or lucky loser in his opening match and, if victorious, will then take on either Australia’s Christopher O’Connell or Japan’s Taro Daniel in the second round.

The first potential seeded player in his way is 26th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who has enjoyed more success on grass and hard courts than on the red clay used at Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

But possible threats may lurk starting in the round of 16.

At that juncture, Alcaraz could square off against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who is seeded 14th and defeated him on clay earlier this year in the Rio de Janeiro final, or Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, who beat the Spaniard in a tight final in last year’s Hamburg clay-court event.

If Alcaraz reaches the last eight, his most likely opponent would be Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, a two-time French Open semifinalist who was narrowly defeated by Djokovic in the 2021 championship match. Alcaraz holds a 4-0 record in their head-to-head matches.

The 36-year-old Serbian will kick off his French Open campaign against American Aleksandar Kovacevic and then could play Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the second round and 29th-seeded Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the third round.

If Djokovic avoids an early upset, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, the No. 13 seed, and seventh-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev are potential round of 16 and quarterfinal opponents, respectively.

Although both Alcaraz, the 2022 US Open champion, and Djokovic, co-holder of the record for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles with 22, are somewhat more vulnerable on clay than hard court, barring injury or a major surprise they will be facing off in the semifinals on June 9.

The biggest names in the bottom half of the draw are Russian No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev, who showed his impressive improvement on clay by capturing this month’s Italian Open title.

Denmark’s Holger Rune, the No. 6 seed, also is on the short list of contenders for Roland Garros after reaching the final of the Rome and Monte-Carlo events this clay-court season and could face off against Medvedev in the semifinals.

Elite opponents may need to be bested, however, along the way, with eighth-seeded rising Italian star Jannik Sinner, 2022 semifinalist Alexander Zverev of Germany and 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria (now ranked No. 91) among the players drawn in Medvedev’s quarter.

Rune might face French veteran Gael Monfils, a fan favorite and the 2008 Roland Garros semifinalist, in the second round.

The 2022 runner-up, fourth-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud; 2023 Madrid Open finalist Jan-Lennard Struff, the No. 21 seed; and/or Argentine No. 23 seed Francisco Cerundolo also could provide the Dane with stiff opposition prior to the semifinals.

This year’s French Open, whose main draw runs from May 28 to June 11, will be the first since 2004 without its greatest champion, Rafael Nadal, on court.

The 36-year-old Spanish great, who captured his record-extending 14th Roland Garros crown last year, was unable to defend his title this time around due to a lingering left-leg injury.

In announcing last week that will not compete at this year’s event, Nadal also said 2024 will probably be his last season on the ATP Tour. EFE


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