Misc Tennis

With Djokovic out, who will win the men’s French Open title?

With Djokovic out, who will win the men's French Open title?

PARIS — For the first time since 2009, there will be no Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in the final four of the French Open.

Nadal’s journey this year lasted just one round, as the 14-time champion, battling injury, was defeated by Alexander Zverev. But there was still Djokovic, the defending champion.

Djokovic played through two five-set matches in the third and fourth rounds, but he injured his knee during his win against Francisco Cerundolo on Monday. On Tuesday, the announcement came of Djokovic’s withdrawal: He had suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee.

For so long, the French Open has seemed predestined to end up in either Nadal’s or Djokovic’s hands. But with both legends out, the tournament is as open as it has been since Nadal started his Roland Garros dominance back in 2005. Who will win? We rank the contenders.

1. Carlos Alcaraz

Since Carlos Alcaraz broke onto the scene, it has felt like he would be the heir apparent to Nadal’s French Open throne. But his first two Slams would come elsewhere: at the US Open in 2022 and then that epic triumph over Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, where he won the title in only his fourth grass-court tournament.

This year, Alcaraz reached the quarterfinal of the Australian Open, where he lost to Zverev, but then won at Indian Wells. His clay-court swing has been far from straightforward, though. He was forced to withdraw from the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open with a forearm injury. He then lost in Madrid to Andrey Rublev and withdrew from Rome with the same injury.

Here at Roland Garros, he has worn a protective sleeve on his right arm and said, “I’m a little bit scared about hitting every forehand 100%.”

He said the same after his straightforward first-round win over J.J. Wolf. If he gets to full power, then that’s surely a worrying sign for the other contenders — and he might be impossible to stop.

Alcaraz was pushed hard by Dutch qualifier Jesper de Jong in the second round and again by Sebastian Korda in the third round. But it was in his conclusive victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round that he looked like he…

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