There is a lot more excitement heading into the French Open than there has been in quite some time. A Rafael Nadal victory is not seen as a fait accompli on the men’s side, while Iga Swiatek will look to celebrate her 21st birthday by winning her second major title. Nadal and Swiatek are seen as the top players heading into the second major of the season, but Nadal is not the overwhelming favorite we have seen in the past and the women’s bracket has been wide open with 12 different winners in the last 14 years.
The 2022 French Open will run from May 22 to June 5, 2022, at Roland Garros in Paris, France. The event organizers have allowed Russian and Belarussian athletes to enter the competition, but they will not be able to compete under their country’s flag.
Rafael Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all-time. Nadal has won the French Open a record 13 times, holding a virtual hammerlock on this major since 2005. He has won 13 of the last 17 French Opens that have been contested, and he is an incredible 105-3 at Roland Garros. Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic (twice) are the only players to best Nadal at the French Open, but he is getting on in years and will turn 36 next month.
It’s clear that the exciting Carlos Alcaraz Garfia is the future of men’s tennis. Alcaraz just turned 19 years old last week, and he has already won four ATP titles this year. Alcaraz won on clay in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona, and his performance at the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid last week was sensational. The young phenom defeated Nadal and Novak Djokovic on clay court in consecutive days before he dominated Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
Novak Djokovic will turn 35 the day the French Open starts, and the 20-time Grand Slam winner nearly won all four majors in 2021. Djokovic has only won the French Open twice though and failed to win the last two majors. The No. 1 ranked player in the world is better on hard court and grass then clay, and that hurts his chances at Roland Garros.
We saw Iga Swiatek win her first major at Roland Garros two years ago. Swiatek was superb on her way to the title, as she didn’t drop a set and didn’t allow an opponent to win more than four games in any set either. She took some lumps in 2021, but Swiatek made the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, and she is fresh after withdrawing from the Madrid Open with a shoulder injury.
Simona Halep won the 2018 French Open and made the finals of this tournament in 2014 and 2017. Halep hasn’t won an event since winning the Australian Open tune-up in Melbourne, but she is at her best on clay.
Aryna Sabalenka has yet to win a Grand Slam title, but she did make the semifinals of both Wimbledon and the US Open last year. Sabalenka has never made it further than the third round at the French Open, yet there is a lot of reason to believe she will have her best performance yet this season. She hasn’t had to worry about grass court season since Wimbledon barred her from competing this summer, so she has had more time to hone her skills on clay.