favorites, outsiders, the state of the circuit seen by Justine Henin, Patrick Mouratoglou and Michael Llodra three weeks before Roland-Garros

Who will lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen Porte d’Auteuil on June 4th and 5th? Three weeks after the start of Roland-Garros, the first indicators on the fitness of the players on the circuit are appearing. After Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, ​​the Masters and the WTA 1000 in Madrid, until May 8, will be a good test to confirm or not the good feelings of the start of the season, or to gain momentum for the Grand Slam of Paris. .

For women, the table is more than open to the absence of world number one Iga Swiatek, as for men who have seen their hierarchy shake in recent weeks. “Every year we say the women’s draw is very open, and I think this year will also be the case for the men’s draw. So I think we’ll have a pretty exciting Roland-Garros.” projects Justine Hénin, crowned Porte d’Auteuil in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007. For franceinfo: sport, Justine Hénin, Michaël Llodra and Patrick Mouratoglou, consultants of France Télévisions, analyze the start of the season in ocher with a view to Roland -Garros.

Stefanos Tsitsipás and Iga Swiatek, elthey are undisputed favorites

Stefanos Tsitsipás is without a doubt the favorite this season on clay. Finalist at Roland-Garros in 2021, double winner of the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 (2021-2022), the Greek, number 5 in the world, seems best equipped to allow his first Grand Slam title in Paris, on his favorite surface. “He is one of the most experienced players, who has not yet won a Grand Slam tournament but who is not far behind.”points out Michaël Llodra, three-time Grand Slam winner in doubles.

Taking advantage of Rafael Nadal’s absence at the start of the clay court season, and the return of Novak Djokovic after a three-month absence, Stefanos Tsitsipas has found his rhythm. After his second title in Monte Carlo, he will be eagerly awaited in Madrid and Rome. “A priori, he should get in shape for Roland. He did what it took to win the Monte Carlo tournament, like last year. We know that mud is a very good surface for him. “ advances his coach Patrick Mouratoglou, also coach of Serena Williams and founder of the Mouratoglou Academy.

Stefanos Tsitsipas won the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 for the second time in a row on April 17, 2022. (MAXPPP)

Among women, Iga Swiatek is also unanimous. Although she announced her retirement from Madrid on April 27 to rest her painful right arm, she remains Roland-Garros ’favorite.

Winner of Porte d’Auteuil in 2020, she started the season brilliantly. At the age of 20, the world number one has just won the Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart tournaments in two months and remains on a 23-game winning streak. “There’s still a lot going on with the prep tournaments here at Roland, but I think today we have a beautiful world number one among the girls. Swiatek is taking on their new status pretty well.” points out Justine Hénin.

But behind it, the competition will be fierce. “The withdrawal of Ashleigh Barty has given way to other players. We believe we are at a crossroads where many players can get rid of and create, perhaps, a sensation.”, believes Michaël Llodra. Leading the list are world number 2 Paula Badosa, a semi-finalist at Stuggart and Indian Wells this year and a quarter-finalist at Roland-Garros last year, and Barbora Krejcikova, world number 3 and defending champion in Paris.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the ghosts

While the clay court season is in full swing, it’s impossible not to mention Rafal Nadal. The Spaniard announced his return to competition in Madrid on April 26, after a month-long absence due to a stress fracture in his ribs that occurred in Indian Wells. Winner of this tournament four times, the last of which in 2017, will be there in search of sensations.

“In Madrid it’s his home, even if it’s not the tournament where he’s at his best. In Madrid the terrain is very compact and depends on the conditions of the game. Rafa often likes to have a little more space, so that’s so comfortable at Roland Garros, ” remembers Michaël Llodra. But Spanish should never be underestimated. At 35 and barely playing for six months, Nadal had made a dazzling start to the season, setting the Australian Grand Slam trophy record in January 2022, with a No. 21 coronation, and winning his first twenty. parties. of the year, until the Indian Wells final.

However, his rib injury still interfered with his preparation on the ground. “Rafael Nadal will not play many games, and it is extremely rare for him to come to Roland with so few games. Therefore, for Roland-Garros, there is a real unknown for him. Despite his incredible start to the season, he is a player he always needed to play a lot. He won’t get to the top. “ Patrick Mouratoglou analysis. “The question is, can Roland-Garros still win at least once? Justine Henin asks. If he is physically able to prepare properly, I think the desire for revenge for last year’s semifinals defeat will be great. “ she continues.

During the Belgrade tournament, Novak Djokovic was mistreated before losing in the final to Andrey Rublev.  Here, the Serb on April 21, 2022, during his match against his compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic.  (PEDJA MILOSAVLJEVIC / AFP)

Another ghost, Novak Djokovic. Deprived of the Australian Open tournament and the US tour for refusing to be vaccinated against covid-19, the Serb played only three tournaments, including two on clay, resuming in Monte Carlo. , with pain.

Beaten from the start at the Rock, he reached the final of the Belgrade tournament before losing to Russian Andrey Rublev (6-2, 6-7). [7]6-0). “Djokovic is still there, but he lacks matches and benchmarks. We saw him in Monte Carlo and Belgrade. But with these champions, he can come back very quickly. He will need matches to find the rhythm,” he added. analyzes Michaël Llodra, who does not see him as a favorite of Madrid, who has won three times.

Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev, el outsiders at the head

If there’s one name that makes everyone agree among the underprivileged, it’s Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard, the new number 9 in the world at the age of 18, is the rising star of men’s tennis. After his two titles collected in one month, in Miami and Barcelona, ​​the young prodigy is still not satisfied, much less. He even has a growing appetite.

If Alcaraz won his first Masters 1000 by taking it to Miami and missed his start to the season on gravel with his elimination in the first round of Monte Carlo, then he turned to ocher to win the title in Barcelona. “He is very comfortable on the ground and has an amazing attitude. He reminds me of Christmas at the same age, even earlier.” boasts Michaël Llodra, who places him in the top 3 of his favorites. “Despite a failed start to the clay court season, he has made great progress, and I think he has will get in shape for Roland “, Patrick Mouratoglou believes.

Alexander Zverev, during the Munich tournament, April 27, 2022. (MAXPPP)

Last outsider, Alexander Zverev, who has gained consistency and maturity in recent months on the pitch. “A few years ago on gravel, and more generally in Grand Slams, he embarked on rallies with long rallies every time. Now, and although not necessarily the surface he prefers, I find that he has crossed a course. “, he added. points out Michaël Llodra.

The next three weeks will offer new lessons before the opening of the fortnight in Paris.

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