Top picks: Get to know your new men's French Open favorites with top 10 contenders

Friday, 17 May 2024 at 09:08
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As the French Open approaches with a start date of May 26, excitement is starting to gear up. But also trepidation on the ATP side with the Roland Garros field perhaps the most open in history.
Many top names head into the next major tournament either injured or out of form meaning that those at the top of odds and also being picked by the public perhaps aren't going to be up there when it comes to the main event.
Ahead of Roland Garros, we pick 10 top contenders with discussion as to whether or not they have a claim for the title and the credentials as well as a rating for their chances out of 10 of sealing the crown come June 8.

Top 10 contenders - 2024 French Open

1. Novak Djokovic

As expected the top contender for the title due to prior experience and peaking at the right moments is Novak Djokovic. The World No.1 though is not as much of a certainty this year though as he has been in years gone by.
Usually Djokovic hoovers up the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open (when he can play the latter) as a bit of a trio of tournaments where he aims his focus on. But Andy Roddick posed the question himself whether Djokovic in fact goes into this year's tournament in the worst position he has been in 15 years.
Starting last November where Jannik Sinner accounted for him at the Davis Cup Finals, Djokovic has lost to the Italian again as well as Alex de Minaur, Luca Nardi, Casper Ruud and also Alejandro Tabilo. He has also disposed of a multitude of members of his inner circle and has not got a new coach. His bad luck continued with the infamous bottle incident at the Rome Open.
While he was fine supposedly, it adds to the quelling doubts ahead of Roland Garros and with Djokovic earmarked almost as picking up the pieces, it is very much not going to plan thus far. But a three time winner of the French Open, he cannot really be backed against at least for now.
Rating - 9/10

2. Carlos Alcaraz

Next up is a player that in reality could've won the tournament last year if he didn't cramp up against Novak Djokovic. A player given a bottler tag as a result, he proved people wrong at Wimbledon by toppling the seemingly unbeatable Serbian on the courts of SW19. This while having little to no experience on grass.
But Alcaraz has a differing complexion to his tennis this year in issues brought on by clay. The Spaniard starred at Indian Wells, but continues his injury woes. Prior to that, he could barely compete on the South American swing. A portion of the season that he was seen almost certain to win through against lesser lights. He got injured and wasn't right for some time.
It is similar this time. He couldn't play at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open and only played late on at the Madrid Open. In reality, Alcaraz is a big question mark if he makes it. From him and a certain other player who will be touched upon being touted as the two best in the world to a real question mark. Alcaraz has dealt with a forearm problem for a number of months, he is still practicing with a sleeve and has had to take time away from practice to heal. Not a good complexion, but still a favourite regardless.
Rating - 8/10

3. Jannik Sinner

That other player mentioned was one Jannik Sinner. The Italian was seen up until very recently as the best player in the world right now. He looked to be easing towards taking Novak Djokovic's World No.1 in Rome and looked for a breakout clay court season.
But after a long period since pukegate in Beijing, he broke down albeit not from fatigue but from a crippling hip injury. This makes him a doubt to even take to the court in Paris, no mind win it. He has barely had warm-ups and has not played since the injury aside from defeating Karen Khachanov after it was sustained.
Jannik Sinner a major doubt to play no mind win Roland Garros.
He handed Felix Auger-Aliassime a walk-over in what was the most fragmented Madrid Open for years and could be a similar complexion this time around. He has been told to potentially skip Roland Garros in order to avoid permanent damage. So any day now could spell a damning withdrawal, he could still head into the grass court section of the season as World No.1. But there are still doubts about him. Ones that in reality did not appear prior.
Rating 7/10

4. Rafael Nadal

The Spanish king will return to Roland Garros for one of two final stands on the courts of Paris. He will also play the Olympic Games (exemption pending which he is very likely to get). But also it is more of a fairytale than a distinct possibility that he will even get anywhere close to winning the tournament.
He is still up in the odds with many websites and also in the minds of tennis fans. But in reality, it will take Nadal a herculean effort to even win a few games no mind the title. He has shown so far that his game is still there, but only against players who are still magnetised by the aura of the 14-time champion.
King of Clay but likely to be dethroned in his final Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal unlikely to win 15th title.
Alex de Minaur and Hubert Hurkacz have shown in particular that they are not overawed by his reputation. The latter in particular defeated him so crushingly that he wondered if he'd even play Roland Garros. It is more wishful thinking seemingly these days to think that Nadal will be anywhere close to winning the title. While 15 is not under the realms of possibility, it is unlikely.
Especially given that he is unseeded and could feasibly run into a huge name in the opening round. A route treaded by Andy Murray in recent years of unlucky draws after being unseeded is now on Nadal in his final year.
Rating - 5/10

5. Casper Ruud

Now to a player who potentially is more likely to win the title given his recent form. But also he has shown some sort of vulnerabilities amid that in Casper Ruud.
Ruud has form for Roland Garros stories reaching the final over the past two years and has only lost to two legends in Djokovic and Nadal during that time. After falling out of the top 10, Ruud seemed to take that personally as he avenged that loss to Nole at the Monte-Carlo Masters.
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Is Casper Ruud a bonafide contender for Roland Garros this time around?
He then lost in the final of the ATP 1000 to Stefanos Tsitsipas before flipping the script the week later against the Greek in Barcelona. Albeit he has played basically all the way through since Monte-Carlo, he suffered early losses in Madrid and Rome. The latter against Miomir Kecmanovic which saw the Norwegian throw it away almost from a 6-0 set up. So in reality, his stock has slightly gone done but likely the leader outside of the top names who are uncertain as it is.
Rating - 7/10

6. Stefanos Tsitsipas

Another player who also got back onto the right track as of late and should be a favourite as a result is a certain Stefanos Tsitsipas who won Monte-Carlo, reached the final of Barcelona and is currently set to play Nicolas Jarry in the Quarter-Finals of Rome.
He lost early to Thiago Monteiro in Rome but given the form of the Brazilian that is no disgrace in the grand scheme of things. He has started to show consistency again and despite a public breakup with Paula Badosa has managed to continue his form. Known for his spiritual side, he has certainly kept a level head during this time.
But his Grand Slam pedigree of losing in multiple finals like Ruud has to be questioned despite him being up there. Overall though if anyone is going to pick up the pieces in the most open French Open in years, it is likely going to be Tsitsipas.
Rating - 7/10

7. Alexander Zverev

Currently seen as the favourite to win the Rome Open with the players remaining, Zverev who infamously suffered a horror injury against Rafael Nadal during his best opportunity to seal the title back in 2022 is back towards that form.
But there is a little issue when it comes to potentially picking Zverev to seal the title in Paris. That is the ongoing court case which surrounds him. Something that will preoccupy build up and also interviews, it is a topic that will likely annoy Zverev in terms of the constant questioning which could in theory do him good.
The German will not attend the trial itself, but will likely spend his time away from his matches getting briefed by his team about current events. As a result, his current form will likely get blighted by his own issues. Will he use it as fuel? It's too early to say.
Rating - 6/10

8. Taylor Fritz

The defeated player in that Quarter-Final was a player who has been given a new moniker in Claylor Fritz. A real star of recent weeks, the American amid losing his American No.1 status initially has rallied like Tsitsipas and Ruud and showed resolve.
He has reached back to back Quarter-Finals in Madrid and Rome and as a result should be taken seriously. Winning Delray earlier this year, he also reached the final in Munich losing to Jan-Lennard Struff prior to his Madrid run. So the signs were certainly there prior for the American. His only issue could come against Novak Djokovic for instance who he has a horrific record against. Hence why his chances are slightly diminished.
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Djokovic head to head and French Open results behind lack of faith for Claylor.
Also his best run on the surface has come with two third rounds in 2020 and 2023 with this being his only tournament without a major Quarter-Final. A box certainly to get ticked off this year, but it will be interesting to see if this happens. He lost to clay specialist, Francisco Cerundolo last year in the third round after four setters against Arthur Rinderknech also. He breezed past Michael Mmoh prior in the first round.
Rating - 6/10

9. Andrey Rublev

It could be said that Andrey Rublev has more chance than some to win the title given that he won Madrid. But it is often the case that those who win warm-ups don't tend to perform at the main event.
Wimbledon in particular is the best gauge for that with curses devised for certain players including at Halle. Rublev also is the best example of a player who performs superbly in the lower level tournaments up to ATP 1000, but can't do it at Grand Slams.
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Andrey Rublev goes into Roland Garros with a Madrid title but also having suffered with illness.
Add in also his recent illness which saw his throat almost close up and he spent time either side of the final in the hospital. He was then dumped out in the opening round by Alexandre Muller in Rome so not exactly a pick to rely on. A perennial Quarter-Finalist in major tournaments, he has reached this point twice in the French Open. A ceiling he will want to get past and if he is able to do so, it could prove to be a landmark two weeks. But the doubts are certainly there, Madrid aside.
Rating - 5/10

10. Daniil Medvedev

Then to round out the list is the player with a so-called hatred for the surface in Daniil Medvedev with the Russian explaining that it was due to the dirty nature of it. He is a former Quarter-Finalist at the French Open and won in Rome last year so he can certainly play on the surface.
He lost in the Last 16 fairly easily to Tommy Paul who won 6-1, 6-4 to reach the Quarter-Finals so the jury is out whether he will be able to string it together on the courts of Paris. In Madrid, he reached the Quarter-Finals but couldn't feel his legs so it is unknown how he will do realistically. But it would call for the funniest moment in French Open history.
From a self loathing of clay to winning the biggest title of all, but he likely doesn't figure aside from the big names all dropping like flies either due to withdrawals or early losses. Time will tell with all the above names likely ready to pick up the pieces.
Rating - 6/10

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