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Roland Garros, French Open

Stade Roland-Garros, France 20 May - 09 June 2024

Elena Rybakina stood on a clay court while throwing a tennis ball in the air as she prepares to serve
Grand Slam

Roland Garros 2024: Four storylines to look out for in Paris

• 4 MINUTE READ

We're just days away from the long-awaited second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros and with a fortnight of world-class tennis action right around the corner, we've highlighted four key storylines you should look out for in Paris.

Will Djokovic retain his title and keep the world No.1 spot?

A brewing storyline amongst the ATP side involves two Australian Open titleholders in world No.1 Novak Djokovic and reigning champion Jannik Sinner.

24-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic has accumulated a total of 426 weeks at the top of the world rankings during his career – a feat no other player has accomplished. However, the defending Roland Garros champion will have his No.1 title under threat at the upcoming tournament, with the world No.2 firmly applying the pressure.

Sinner – who won his maiden Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne this year – is on the brink of creating history by becoming the first Italian player, man or woman, to hold the coveted world No.1 title.

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So, what does Sinner need to do in order to claim the top ranking spot?

Well, the Italian is defending only 45 points in Paris after suffering a second round exit last year, whereas Djokovic is defending 2000 points from his run to the silverware last year. Once those points from last year expire, so will his current lead over Sinner – allowing the young Italian to edge ahead to the top spot with a 865 point lead.

That being said, Djokovic will need to at least reach the final or at best, successfully retain his title to keep his world No.1 status – any loss before that will see Sinner rise to the top position for the first time in his career.

If Djokovic finishes runner-up at the French Open, then Sinner will at least need to make the semi-finals to ensure he takes over the top spot.

With Djokovic yet to win a title and struggling for form this year and Sinner up against the clock to recover from a hip injury, this really will be a storyline you'll want to watch unfold.

Can the Brits find their form on the Parisian clay?

It’s been a turbulent start to the 2024 clay court season for our British tennis players. Aside from Cam Norrie’s quarter-final run in Barcelona and Jack Draper’s appearance in the final eight at the BMW Open, wins have been hard to come by so far for the Brits on the clay – but what better time to turn it around than on one of the biggest stages in tennis.

Great Britain is guaranteed to have six players competing across the women’s and men’s singles main draws, while eight doubles stars will also be in action. Amongst those are two players you'll want to keep on your radar.

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First up is British No.1 Katie Boulter who is set to make her Roland Garros main draw debut off the back of a breakthrough 12 months that’s seen her collect two WTA titles. Competing in her first full clay court swing on the WTA tour, the 27-year-old secured her first tour-level win on the clay during Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier against France, when she beat Clara Burel 7-5, 6-0. The French Open will mark Boulter's first time being seeded at a Grand Slam, with the 27-year-old drawing a blockbuster opening round match-up against former world No.2 Paula Badosa.

Perhaps one of the most in-form Brits of the clay court season is world No.53 doubles player Henry Patten who has hauled a total of three titles so far on the dirt across the ATP and ATP Challenger tours. Having competed alongside Finland’s Harri Heliovaara, the 28-year-old enjoyed a milestone moment in April when he won his first ATP tour-level title at the Grand Prix Hassan II. With the pair gaining direct entry into the main draw, they’ll certainly be looking to do some damage against some of the world’s best doubles duos.

Keep up with all the latest Roland Garros results from our British tennis players

Who can disrupt Swiatek's momentum in Paris?

There’s no denying that Poland’s Iga Swiatek feels comfortably at home at Stade Roland Garros and enters the tournament off the back of sealing successive WTA 1000 crowns at the Mutua Madrid Open and Italian Open.

The world No.1 has etched her name on the trophy an impressive three times over the last four years, with the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejickova being the only other player to lift the title back in 2021.

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With Swiatek dominating the tournament in recent years, it's going to take an in-form player to break her momentum in the French capital. The only player to have come close to defeating the Pole this clay court swing is world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, who faced Swiatek in the final of both Madrid and Rome. Despite falling short on both occasions, Sabalenka has previously proven her game on the clay, having lifted the title in Madrid on two occasions (2021, 2023) and will be gunning to de-throne Swiatek en route to a third major title.

Elsewhere on the WTA Tour, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina have also enjoyed a strong clay season so far and could be tipped as favourites to cause an upset to the world No.1. 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina defeated Swiatek en route to lifting the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title back in April, while former Roland Garros runner-up Gauff has also impressed on the red clay over the last couple of months.

With a few players on the brink of breaking the world No.1's stronghold on the surface, could this year's tournament be the one to put an end to Swiatek's dominance in Paris?

British wheelchair stars seek to retain their titles

The French Open 2023 proved a huge success for British wheelchair stars, with three male tennis players stealing the headlines at the tournament.

Formidable duo Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid rallied to win their fourth consecutive doubles crown, after defeating Martin de la Puente and Gustavo Fernandez 7-(9), 7-5 in the final. The 19-time Grand Slam winning pair will be looking to make it five on the bounce when they head to Paris to defend their title from the 4 June.

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Last year also saw Hewett come within touching distance of the singles title but was beaten to the silverware by 18-year-old Japanese star Tokito Oda 6-1, 6-4 who also dethroned Hewett in the rankings to become the youngest ever men’s wheelchair world No.1. With Hewett entering the tournament in red-hot form off the back of clinching the doubles at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia, will he be able to hunt down his first Roland Garros singles title since 2021?

Over on the quad side, last year saw Andy Lapthorne lift his second Roland Garros doubles title alongside South Africa’s Donald Ramphadi after edging Heath Davidson and Robert Shaw in the deciding tie-break 1-6, 6-2, 10-3.

While it’s unknown who the reigning Lexus British Open champion will be partnering with at the upcoming Grand Slam, we’ll be hoping the British wheelchair tennis players will bring home the silverware once again.

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