Roland-Garros, its packed aisles, its celebrities in the stands… but above all its stars on the courts. Since 1891, the French Open have been used to seeing the biggest stars of world tennis. Several of them left their mark on the tournament and intend to continue their domination on Parisian clay. Others, on the other hand, have lost their luster of yesteryear, or even completely hung up their racket. Overview of the forces present.
Nadal, Djokovic, Federer: a trio, a big absentee
The Serbian Novak Djokovic (34 years old) still occupies the place of world number 1 despite a turbulent start to the year. Excluded from the Australian Open for having refused the anti-Covid-19 vaccine, the defending champion at Roland-Garros took time to regain his feelings. But for the past few weeks, he finally seems to be back. Winner last Sunday of the Masters 1000 in Rome, he confirmed his good disposition on clay, a few days after his semi-final in Madrid, another tournament on ochre. He remains in the race for a 21st Grand Slam success, as much as the master of the place, Rafael Nadal.
It is precisely the latter that Djokovic could meet in the quarter-finals at Porte d’Auteuil. Of 21 major tournaments won, Nadal won more than half at Roland-Garros (13). Despite its 35 springs, it is naturally one of the favourites, as it does every year. The Mallorcan, however, remains handicapped by an extremely painful left foot which made him suffer after his elimination at the Masters 1000 in Rome a few days ago. His participation in the great Parisian raout is not compromised but seeing him lift the Silver Salad Bowl on June 5 remains more than hypothetical. On the other hand, the historical adversary of Nadal, Roger Federer (40 years old), will not be in the game. The Swiss, down to 46th in the world, is still recovering after right knee surgery in 2021. Winner of Roland in 2009, the one described as immortal is inevitably approaching the end of his career.
Murray and Wawrinka at the end, Thiem weighed down by injuries
This finding also applies to Andy Murray (35). Despite 46 titles on the list, including three Grand Slams, the Scot no longer has the weapons to compete with the very best. After an almost white year 2020, Murray seemed to be taking the direction of retirement, but he finally continued his career and even returned to the top 100. However, he chose to skip this Roland-Garros, probably to better prepare for the season. on grass, his favorite surface.
In Paris, the public also remembers Stanislas Wawrinka (37) and his victory in 2015 against Djokovic. Back in the fore after a round of 16 two weeks ago in Rome, the Swiss is starting this Roland-Garros 2022 but will not be able to claim victory. Down to 257th place, he is slowly recovering from an operation undergone in June 2021. He could cross paths with Nadal in the second round. As for the Austrian Dominic Thiem (28), twice finalist at Roland (2018 and 2019) and former world number 3, but who fell to 194th place after injuries, the adventure already ended this Sunday.
The Williams sisters absent, just like Barty
Among the ladies, although the young Iga Swiatek (20 years old) appears as the big favourite, the circuit remains unpredictable. A far cry from the days when the American Serena Williams head and shoulders above the competition. The most successful player in the history of her sport, triple winner at Roland, she has not stepped on the courts for almost a year. At 40, the one who was the subject of the Netflix documentary film The Williams Method with Will Smith, could make a comeback at Wimbledon in early July. His sister Venus Williams, also a former world number 1, will only miss her second Roland-Garros since 1997. Aged 41, the end of her career is fast approaching. Quite the opposite of Naomi Osaka (25 years old) and already four times victorious in Grand Slam. 38th in the ranking, she seems to be gradually overcoming her mental health problems but has still not returned to the level that had taken her to the top of the WTA rankings. Eliminated in the first round on Monday, she is already leaving the Porte d’Auteuil.
They, on the other hand, have already triumphed in Paris. Romanian Simona Halep and the Australian Ashleigh Barty lifted the trophy in 2017 and 2019. The first will be there but could meet Iga Swiatek in the eighth. Enough to compromise his chances of a third Grand Slam title. The second still occupied the place of world number 1 a few months ago but decided, to everyone’s surprise, to end his career. Only 25 years old.