2022 French Open
The men’s draw of the 2022 French Open looks set to be a 3-horse race.
A resurgent Rafael Nadal, the undisputed ‘king of clay,’ world number 1 Novak Djokovic and 2022 ‘wunderkind’ Carlos Alcaraz are the bookies favourites heading into this year’s 2022 French Open clay slam.
Iga Swiatek stands head and shoulders above her opposition heading into female draw of this year’s second slam. With Ash Barty, the 2022 Australian Open champion retiring from the game, Swiatek is the out and out favourite. Referred to simply as ‘Roland Garros,’ the French Open is the culmination of the clay court season. A successful clay season is not complete without victory in Paris.
Dominated by Nadal since 2005, the event is primed for Alcaraz. The young Spanish talent has a game remarkably similar to that of Nadal’s. If he can make his way to the final on June 5th, he will be one step away from creating history. Having missed the Australian Open, Djokovic is eyeing a repeat of his successful 2021 campaign. Whoever comes out on top will have earned the 2022 French Open title for sure.
Following the Australian Open, the next big target for all is the French Open. The build-up to which really begins at the Rio Open in February. Carlos Alcaraz walked away the winner in the 2022 event. He has been on form since, winning an additional three titles. And he is currently sitting at a career high of 6th spot in the ATP rankings.
Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal has also enjoyed a successful 2022 campaign, albeit one not without injury concerns. With three titles to his name this year so far and heading into his favourite Slam, Nadal will have the confidence to add to his tally of thirteen wins. Novak Djokovic has had a quieter start to the year following his Australian Open debacle. Since returning to play, he seems to be regaining form at the right time. By winning the Italian Open in straight sets, he is eyeing a return to success at a Grand Slam- the last of which came at Wimbledon last year. Other players who have enjoyed a positive start to 2022 are Felix Auger-Aliassime, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev. Past form however counts for nothing once the tournament begins, and all competing will be well aware of this.
Past and present French Open success
For a good portion of the past 2 decades, Rafael Nadal has been the man to beat at the French Open. With a record thirteen titles to his name, it is hard to look past a fit Nadal as the likely winner. Djokovic, with two victories is the only other player to have won more than once in the past 20 years. Roger Federer has only won the event once out of five appearances in the final. This shows how utterly dominant Nadal has been over the years. Gustavo Kuerten, Andre Agassi, and Carlos Moya are just some of the other big names who have won the men’s tournament in the past.
On the ladies’ side of things, there has not been a dominance of Nadal proportions. Serena Williams is the most successful of the current group of players, with three titles. The last of which came in 2015. Since then, there have been no repeat winners in the female draw. Justine Henin dominated in the 2000’s, with four wins from 2003- 2007. Steffi Graf was another who enjoyed repeated success here. She won six titles between 1987 and 1999. Between them, the current World number 1 and 2, Iga Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova have won the past two editions. They will both be eager to add to their tally.
2022 French Open Men’s Contenders
Anyone in the current top ten stands a chance to be crowned champion. In reality only a handful can really do it. Last year’s runner up, Stefanos Tsitsipas is still hunting that elusive Grand Slam title. On his day he can win against all! But one feels that he needs to become more consistent should he wish to take that next step in his career.
Current Olympic champion Alexander Zverev is another who is still without a slam trophy in his cabinet. An undoubted talent, Zverev needs to manage his temperament better if he is to be considered a serious contender.
World number 2 Daniil Medvedev comes into the French Open after reaching the last 2 Grand Slam finals he competed in. The 2021 US Open champion began the year on a high. It took a herculean effort from Nadal to beat him in five sets in the Australian Open final. Since then, he has taken time off for a hernia operation. Game time since then has been scarce. So his success in Paris will depend on how quickly he can return to form.
Carlos Alcaraz has arguably been the form player in the men’s game in 2022, winning four titles. These include two victories in ATP tour 1000 events (Miami and Madrid), along with the distinction of having beaten both Nadal and Djokovic in the same tournament. Alcaraz currently sits at number 6 in the world rankings- the highest position he has held in his career so far. Many compare him to a younger Nadal- this could be bad news considering Nadal’s success on clay.
Djokovic, sitting on 20 Grand Slam victories has his sights firmly set on surpassing the record of twenty-one currently held by Nadal. Some feel it is only a matter of time before the Serb achieves this milestone. Coming into form at just the right time, Djokovic has every chance of adding to his 2 French Open titles.
Nadal when fit is always the favourite at this event. His dominance is unheralded, and to beat him on this surface will take an extraordinary effort (and perhaps a bit of luck). He is not without troubles this year though. His chronic foot pain has returned, and this is something he will have to deal with if he hopes to win a record-extending 14th title.
2022 French Open Ladies Field
The women’s tournament is seeming to be a case of who can beat Iga Swiatek? She has been in such dominant form this year, that it is hard to look past her as the likely champion. Winning five titles and twenty-eight straight matches since her semi-final loss at the Australian Open, Swiatek has been in a class of her own. Barbora Krejcikova, last year’s winner has been struggling with an elbow injury since March and one wonders whether she will be fit enough to realistically stand a chance at this year’s French slam? Ons Jabeur is potentially the biggest threat to Swiatek. Reaching three finals (and winning 1) in the build up to Roland Garros has allowed Jabeur to reach a career-high ranking of world number 6. If the stars align, she could be the one to challenge for the title.
As the clay court season reaches its crescendo, all eyes will be on who will be crowned 2022 champions. Will it be a previous winner dominating the clay courts of Paris, or will a new winner come to the fore? Come Sunday the 5th of June we will have our answers. Then we will know who will lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires in the 2022 French Open.