We started with 128 players, and now only eight remain. Roland Garros is entering its final week, and the favourites to win the world’s largest clay court tennis championship have already been determined. Only Novak Djokovic represents the Old Gen in four dramatic matches.
Djokovic – Khachanov
With the retirement of Roger Federer and the absence of Rafa Nadal due to injury, there is only one representative left from the greatest generation in history: Serbian Novak Djokovic. Djokovic comes in as the third seed and has not faced any significant difficulties in reaching the quarterfinals, but the Serbian has shown unpredictability and is not on a court that suits his liking. The two-time winner of Roland Garros, if he were to triumph again, would surpass Rafael Nadal as the tennis player with the most Grand Slam titles in history.
Khachanov is pitted against history. The Russian is in his prime, having reached the Grand Slam semifinals for the first time in the US Open and Australian Open. The world number 11 has an unusual track record as well: he won the ATP Finals in 2018, but has yet to reach a Grand Slam final. The Russian tennis player has only defeated Djokovic once, in the 2018 Masters final, with Djokovic winning eight times.
Alcaraz – Tsitsipas
The anticipated final for many. The Spaniard, who is supposed to carry on Rafael Nadal’s legacy, is competing in his predecessor’s favourite tournament in Spanish tennis. Without Nadal, and as the world number one before the tournament, Alcaraz is the top favourite to win, but he must first defeat a true specialist on clay… and then he could face Djokovic in the semifinals.
But the first hurdle is a flawless Tsitsipas, one of the greatest clay court specialists of the modern age. Tsitsipas, unlike Alcaraz, is a calm and poised player on the court, which contrasts with his aggressive playing. The Greek is still looking for his first Grand Slam championship, and Nadal’s absence at Roland Garros creates a chance for clay court specialists. Tsitsipas has never beaten Alcaraz, and their most recent meeting came earlier this year in Barcelona, where the Spaniard won swiftly.
Zverev – Etcheverry
The past year has been plagued by injuries for Zverev, but don’t be fooled by his 22nd seed position: the German is playing fantastic tennis. His problems began exactly a year ago at Roland Garros, when he had to retire in the quarterfinals against Rafa Nadal due to a ligament issue. Zverev’s powerful backhand, as well as his excellent serve due to his height, will be among his weapons. However, his second serve can be a problem due to his tendency to make errors with it.
Etcheverry, on the other side, has been one of the tournament’s biggest surprises. The Argentine had previously only advanced to the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year. Along the way, de Miaur and Coric were taken aback by the Argentine, who was having the tournament of his life. This match is entirely unusual, as the German and Argentine have never met before this competition. Will his determination be enough to overcome Zverev?
Rune – Ruud
Rune is another young player who has risen to the top of the game in recent years. The Danish player stunned the world by reaching the quarterfinals of Roland Garros in 2022 and winning the Paris Masters in the same year. Rune has yet to win a Masters 1000 event this year, although he has already reached the finals in Monte Carlo and Rome.
The Scandinavian duel is completed by Casper Ruud, the conqueror of Rune at the 2022 Roland Garros. The Norwegian reached the final of that tournament, where he fell to Rafael Nadal. Ruud is another great specialist on clay, which could work in his favour in the match. In their previous encounters, Rune has only won one out of five matches, but his victory came in their most recent meeting.