Naomi Osaka will not have the luxury of returning to the court of Roland-Garros, facing a tough enemy in her first match.
The second week in Paris, meanwhile, could be quite exciting for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz – the three main favorites for the men’s title have ended up on the same side of the bracket for the clay-court Grand Slam tournament, meaning they could only advance to one final.
The draw in the fourth round at Roland-Garros also created two exciting possibilities for the 1-ranked Iga Swiatek, the 2020 champion, who is currently on a winning streak of 28 matches. She may have to go against 2018 champion Simona Halep or 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko at that stage – who could be the last woman to beat Svetk.
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The tournament starts on Monday (AEST).
Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion who was previously at No. 1 in the rankings but has partially dropped to No. 38 due to a lack of activity. Before his second-round match last year, he included a vacation for a mental health break after withdrawing from Roland-Garros, revealing that he had dealt with anxiety and depression.
Since she was not selected in Paris, she was not safe to face a selected opponent right now, so this will happen in Paris against Amanda Anisimova, 20, the 20-year-old American who is the 2019 semifinalist.
Anisimova won their third round match at the Australian Open in January, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Osaka was the defending champion in Melbourne Park.
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The potential women’s quarterfinals in Paris are two-time Major Runner-up Carolina Pliskova against Sweetech, and No. 7 pick Paula Badosa against No. 7 Arena Sabalenka, and defending champion Barbora Krejsikova at No. 5 and Anett Kont in the bottom half.
Last year, Krejsikova won those two trophies for the first time in the main draw of the singles at Roland-Garros – the player she defeated in the final, Anastasia Pavliuchenkova, announced this week that her season was over due to a knee injury – along with the women’s doubles.
So it is understandable that Krejsikova used phrases such as “extremely amazing” and “something incredible” when discussing what happened during her brief appearance at the draw in 2021, and mentioned with a laugh: “This soil is suitable for me.”
Nadal, the 13-year-old Red Staff of Paris, and two-time champion Djokovic must say the same thing.
Defending champion and No. 1 seed Djokovic could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals. A year ago, Djokovic overcame a two-set deficit against Stefanos Sitsipas to win the final by defeating Nadal in the semifinals.
“I am very inspired to play my best tennis,” Djokovic said in French, noting the opportunity to return to the Grand Slam stage after missing the Australian Open because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 (Roland-Garros has none as required).
“It simply came to our notice then. Roland-Garros was perhaps the toughest of my career – he said of all the Grand Slams I have won. “Very emotional, tiring, but in the end, the results came.”
Nadal leads the men in 21 Grand Slam titles, one ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.
If Djokovic-Nadal fight, the winner could face No. 6 pick Alcaraz in the semifinals. Alcaraz, just 19 years old, recently won the Madrid Open on the ground and became the youngest person in the top 10 rankings since Nadal in 2005.
Alcaraz could face No. 3 pick Alexander Zaverev in the quarterfinals.
Brackett’s other half-potential quarter-final is No. 2 against Daniel Medvedev, No. 7 Andrei Rublev – two Russians who can’t compete at Wimbledon due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine – and No. 4 against Caspian Rud.
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