Blockbusters galore in the French Open men’s and women’s draws

The men’s and women’s draws for the 2022 French Open have been made official, and both have thrown up some potentially exciting matches to watch over the next fortnight.

As is convention, we start in the men’s draw, which will be without Spanish journeyman Feliciano Lopez after he failed to qualify for the main draw of a major tournament for the first time since the 2002 Australian Open.

This means his streak of consecutive grand slam main draw appearances ends at 79, just one short of 80. This is more than any other man or woman, the great Roger Federer included.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic headlines a blockbuster top half of the draw which also includes 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and the exciting young force that is Carlos Alcaraz.

The Djoker will begin his bid to complete an unprecedented triple career grand slam against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka and will emerge from his eighth of the draw as the favourite to set up a massive showdown against Nadal in the final eight.

It is projected to take place a round earlier than when they met last year, when the Serb came from a set down to oust the Spaniard in four; it marked the first time the King of Clay had lost a match after winning the first set at Roland Garros.

The only major threat to this match eventuating is 15th seed Diego Schwartzman, who could await Djokovic in the fourth round.

Nadal, for his part, begins with a clash against Sydneysider Jordan Thompson and could then face 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round, followed by either Italian veteran Fabio Fognini or Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in the third.

In the second quarter, German third seed Alexander Zverev will start off against a qualifier but could then face a potentially tricky opponent in the third round, where 25th seed and recent Monte Carlo finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina could await.

Alex Zverev hits a backhand at the 2021 ATP Finals

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

He is then projected to face either John Isner or Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz in the fourth round; the two Americans could face each other in the preceding round.

The next-highest seed in this quarter is Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz, who has set the tennis world on fire with his performances this season, winning four titles, including the prestigious Miami and Madrid titles on either side of cracking the top ten for the first time.

The 19-year-old from El Palmar begins against a qualifier and could face, in this order, compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Sebastian Korda and Cameron Norrie before a projected quarter-final showdown against Zverev.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem, who is unseeded after missing most of the past 12 months due to injury, is also in this part of the draw and has drawn 21st seed Karen Khachanov as a potential second round opponent.

A Nadal-Alcaraz semi-final has the potential to be a “changing of the guard” moment at the French Open, like it was at Wimbledon in 2001 when Roger Federer, who was a month short of turning 20, upset the legendary Pete Sampras on his first appearance on Centre Court.

Over the page now, and French wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will have a tough time of it trying to extend his career by at least one more match, drawing eighth seed Casper Ruud in the first round.

The Frenchman, who burst onto the scene with his run to the 2008 Australian Open final, has been plagued by injury in recent years and announced last month that his hometown major would be his final tournament before retiring.

Recently dethroned Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz is also in this section of the draw and after starting against a qualifier, the Pole could face former semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato in the second round.

Whichever of these players reaches the final eight is likely to face fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will be looking to bury last year’s disappointment when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final after being two sets to love to the good.

The Greek star begins against Italian Lorenzo Musetti and could face French wildcard Lucas Pouille in the second round. Beyond that, he is projected to face Dan Evans in the third round, and either Denis Shapovalov or Alex de Minaur in the last 16.

Alex de Minaur plays a backhand.

Alex de Minaur plays a backhand in his fourth round Australian Open match against Jannik Sinner. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The bottom quarter of the draw could see a potential clash between countrymen Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, who are both competing without a flag to their name owing to the ongoing Russian-Ukraine crisis.

Rublev, who is seeded seventh, is projected to face Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the round of 16, while Medvedev could face Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the third round, and either Pablo Carreno Busta or Marin Cilic in the fourth.

Assuming there are no major upsets, the quarter-finals onwards could unfold as follows:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs [5] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[3] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs [6] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
[7] Andrey Rublev vs [2] Daniil Medvedev

[5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs [6] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs [2] Daniil Medvedev

[6] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeats [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

Absent: Matteo Berrettini, Robert Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils.

We now turn our attention to the women’s draw, which is headlined by world No.1 and 2020 champion Iga Swiatek, who will begin her bid for a second French Open title against either a qualifier or a lucky loser.

While the Pole will carry a 28-match winning streak (the longest by any woman in a single season since Serena Williams in 2013) into the tournament, she does face a tricky path to the quarter-finals, with two former champions loaded on her eighth of the draw.

Simona Halep (seeded 19th) and Jelena Ostapenko (13th) could reprise their dramatic 2017 championship showdown in the third round, with local favourite Alize Cornet looming as a possible second round opponent for the latter.

Ostapenko is also the most recent player to beat Swiatek on tour, doing so at Dubai in February.

The biggest threat to Swiatek in the top quarter of the draw is eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, for whom time is running out to break her major duck, having just turned 30.

The Wimbledon finalist could face as many as two French wildcards in as many rounds, with her first seeded opponent being Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round, while American Jessica Pegula could await in the last 16.

In the third section of the draw, third seed Paula Badosa could face a rematch against Madison Keys in the fourth round, after the American sprung an upset straight-sets win at the Australian Open back in January.

The Spaniard first faces French wildcard Fiona Ferro with 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova looming as a potential third round opponent.

Also in this section of the draw is seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, whose potential opponents en route to a clash with Badosa include Italian veteran Camila Giorgi and Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the third and fourth rounds respectively.

Recent Madrid champion Ons Jabeur is the leading name in the fifth section of the draw and she may have to navigate her way through three former major champions just to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the first time.

She is projected to face 32nd seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round, and either Angelique Kerber, who is attempting to complete her set of grand slam titles at Roland Garros, or US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the last 16.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain

(Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Daria Saville, who is on the comeback trail from injury, is competing on a wildcard entry and looms as a possible second-round opponent for Kvitova, while Kerber and Raducanu are projected to face off in the third round for a possible shot at Jabeur in the fourth.

Naomi Osaka, who is unseeded but is climbing back up the rankings, faces a rematch against Amanda Anisimova in the first round after the American saved a match point to defeat the Japanese star in the third round of this year’s Australian Open.

Whoever wins that match-up is projected to face fourth-seeded Greek star Maria Sakkari, who starts against Clara Burel and is likely to face Belinda Bencic or Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round.

Bencic and Andreescu could face off in the second round, if both beat qualifiers or lucky losers in their respective first round matches, with US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez potentially awaiting in the third round.

In the seventh section, 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza faces a potentially tricky first round clash against Kaia Kanepi, and is also projected to face 18th seed Coco Gauff and fifth seed Anett Kontaveit on her path to the quarter-finals.

Ajla Tomljanovic, now the highest-ranked Australian player following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement in March, is also in this part of the draw and has drawn Kontaveit in the first round.

At the bottom of the draw, reigning champion Barbora Krejcikova, who hasn’t played for nearly three months, starts against Frenchwoman Diana Parry and, as was the case at the Australian Open, could face 15th seed Victoria Azarenka in the last 16.

Azarenka, who is competing without a flag to her name, should not face any major threats en route to this potential clash, which the Czech doubles specialist won in straight sets at Melbourne Park in January.

Krejcikova, meantime, is seeded to face Sorana Cirstea or 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round.

Assuming there are no major upsets, the quarter-finals onwards could unfold as follows:

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) vs [8] Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
[3] Paula Badosa (ESP) vs [7] Aryna Sabalenka
[6] Ons Jabeur (TUN) vs [4] Maria Sakkari (GRE)
[5] Anett Kontaveit (EST) vs [2] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) vs [3] Paula Badosa (ESP)
[4] Maria Sakkari (GRE) vs [2] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)


[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeats [2] Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)

Absent: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elina Svitolina.

Play gets underway this Sunday evening (AEST).

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