Naomi Osaka will not have the luxury of softening her return to the courts of Roland-Garros, facing a tough opponent in her very first match.
The second week in Paris, meanwhile, could be quite fascinating for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz – the three main favorites for the men’s title found themselves on the same side of the table for the Grand Slam tournament on clay, meaning only one can reach the final.
The French Open draw also opened up two tantalizing fourth-round possibilities for No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek, the 2020 champion who is currently on a 28-game winning streak. She may have to face 2018 champion Simona Halep at this point or 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko – who just happens to be the last woman to defeat Swiatek.
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The tournament starts on Monday (AEST).
Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion who was previously No. 1 in the rankings but has slipped to No. 38 in part due to a lack of activity. This included time off for a mental health break after she withdrew from the French Open ahead of her second-round match last year, revealing she had dealt with anxiety and depression.
Because she’s not seeded in Paris, she wasn’t immune to facing a seeded opponent right away, so that’s what’s going to happen against #27 Amanda Anisimova, a 20-year-old American who was a semi-finalist in 2019 in Paris.
Anisimova won her third-round encounter at the Australian Open in January by a score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). Osaka was the defending champion at Melbourne Park.
Watch Roland-Garros on 9Gem and 9Now or every match, ad-free, live and on demand with 4K courts on Stan Sports.
Possible women’s quarterfinals in Paris are Swiatek against two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova, and seeded No. 3 Paula Badosa against No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka in the top half of the field, and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova against No. 5 Anett Kontaveit and No. 4 Maria Sakkari against No. 6 Ons Jabeur in the bottom half.
Last year, for her first time in the main singles draw at Roland Garros, Krejcikova won both that trophy – the player she beat in the final, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, announced this week that her season was over terminated due to a knee injury – with women’s doubles.
So it makes sense that Krejcikova used phrases such as ‘extremely amazing’ and ‘something amazing’ while discussing what happened in 2021 during a brief appearance at the draw ceremony. and noted with a smile, “This clay suits me.”
Nadal, he of 13 titles on the red thing in Paris, and Djokovic, double champion, could of course say the same.
Djokovic, who is the defending champion and No. 1 seed, could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals. A year ago, Djokovic beat Nadal in the semi-finals, before overcoming a two-set deficit against Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the final.
“I’m very motivated to play my best tennis,” Djokovic said in French, as he scored his chance to return to the Grand Slam stage after missing the Australian Open because he isn’t. vaccinated against COVID-19 (Roland-Garros has no such requirement).
“Last year in Paris was the perfect result. Roland-Garros was perhaps the most difficult of my career – of all the Grand Slams I’ve won,” he said. “Very emotional, tiring, but in the end the result came.”
Nadal leads the men’s Grand Slam title standings with 21, one ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.
If the Djokovic-Nadal showdown happens, the winner could face No.6 seed Alcaraz in the semi-finals. Alcaraz is just 19, recently won the Madrid Open on clay and became the youngest man to enter the top 10 in the rankings since Nadal in 2005.
Alcaraz could meet No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals.
Potential quarter-finalists on the other half of the draw are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev against No. 7 Andrey Rublev — two Russians who won’t be allowed to compete at Wimbledon due to Ukraine’s invasion of Ukraine. countries — and No. 4 Tsitsipas against No. 7. .8 Casper Ruud.
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