Roland Garros 2023: Five storylines to look out for in Paris
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With Roland Garros main draw action just around the corner, we’ve highlighted five storylines you should look out for at the 2023 Roland Garros.
Who will take the crown from Rafael Nadal?
With 14-time Roland Garros champion, Rafael Nadal not returning to Paris to defend his title due to injury, it’s safe to say the men’s singles title could be anyone's this year.
Novak Djokovic will be on the hunt to surpass the joint-record of 22 Grand Slam titles he currently shares with Nadal.Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz will be looking to add a second Grand Slam title to his repertoire following his ominous form on clay, that led him to defend his titles in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as overcoming Britain’s Cam Norrie to seal the crown in Argentina earlier this season.
However, we’ve seen some fresh faces scooping up some of the biggest titles on the clay so far. Andrey Rublev reigned supreme in Monte Carlo to clinch his first ATP Masters 1000 title, Daniil Medvedev recently won his first ever clay court title at the Rome Masters, while Denmark’s Holger Rune has been a dominant force, finishing runner-up in both Monte Carlo and Rome.
Rybakina and Sabalenka prepare to battle Swiatek for the trophy
Last year’s Roland Garros saw Iga Swiatek hailed as the clear favourite for the title - and that proved correct when she won her second title on the French clay. But 2023 has since seen a growing rivalry emerge on the WTA tour, with Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina posing a serious threat to the defending champion.
Reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka has embarked on an excellent season, taking three titles from five finals so far. Since her triumph in Melbourne, the world No.2 has carried over her successes from the hard courts to the clay, including a phenomenal win over Swiatek in the Madrid Open final.
Meanwhile, Rybakina has proven to be a tough hurdle for many to overcome, with the Kazakhstani reaching the final of four significant events - Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami Master and Rome, where she eventually took home two titles. The 2022 Wimbledon champion will be looking to hunt down a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros this year.
Strong British contingent set to make their debuts in Paris
Draper - who has already hit the ground running on his return to the ATP tour - will enter the tournament off the back of an impressive run to the quarter-final of the Lyon Open, after an encouraging display on the clay.
Meanwhile rising stars will join an already strong British line-up in the Roland Garros doubles entry list. Patten and Cash are set to make their debut in the men’s draw following a breakthrough year on the ATP Challenger tour which saw them set a new record of 10 Challenger doubles titles won in a single season. The all-British duo have already picked up an additional title at the Sarasota Open, as well as finishing runner up at the U.S. Clay Court Championships - and could be well positioned to cause an upset in Paris.
In the women’s draw, Barnett and Nicholls have enjoyed deep runs on the ITF tour this clay-court season, making it to the semi-finals of three tournaments. The British duo have already showed they have what it takes to overcome players at the top of the game, after they secured victory over reigning Roland Garros doubles champion Kristina Mladenovic and her compatriot Clara Burel during Great Britain’s tie against France at this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers.
Hewett and Reid look to defend their Roland Garros title
2023 Roland Garros marks an expansion of the wheelchair draw, with the tournament now set to feature two draws of 16 players in comparison to 12 last year.
Last year saw Britain’s Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid become the most successful men’s wheelchair doubles partnership at Roland Garros after they clinched a 7-6(5), 7-6(5) victory over Gustavo Fernandez and Shingo Kunieda. Since then, Hewett and Reid have been an unstoppable force, having clinched their 16th Grand Slam title together at the Australian Open back in January - equalling the record for the most Grand Slam men’s doubles titles won in the Open Era.
Can they make it a fourth successive title in Paris and extend their record?
Can the young guns make their stamp on the field?
With a host of rising stars lining the draw in Roland Garros, the youngsters will be looking for an opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves.
The men’s draw is full of up-and-coming talent, including the likes of young Frenchman Arthur Fils, who’s been making significant moves on tour lately at just 18-years-old, while Ben Shelton will be looking to transfer his Grand Slam form from the Australian Open to the French clay.
On the WTA tour, 20-year-old Marta Kostyuk will seek to return to winning ways following her maiden WTA title at the ATX Open in March, while 18-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova could be tipped as one to watch after her striking journey to the fourth round in Melbourne in January.