French Open tips: No Rafael Nadal means plenty of opportunity in the men's draw

Rafael Nadal has only lost three times in the French Open since 2005 but he won’t be there this year, opening the door for the likes of Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

  • "Paris in the spring,
  • Love is in the air,
  • Life's a love affair
  • And ev'ry pair of arms a rendezvous for two"

So sang the great Jazz crooner Al Bowlly. Bowlly is not around today but if he was he would surely be getting hyped for the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

There's no Rafael Nadal of course for the first time in almost two decades and there's no denying that the tournament will have a very different feel as a result.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is going to be a huge miss. His record at Roland Garros is outrageous. Since his debut in 2005, Spain's Raging Bull has gone 105-3 at the event, a win percentage of 97.2%!

However, there is a new Iberian gun-slinger in town in the shape of Carlos Alcaraz. Make no bones, 'Charly' is the new star on the men's circuit. Having only turned 20 earlier this month, he has already bagged a US Open title and this week reclaimed the world number one ranking.

He is an astonishing athlete who loves to build points with his forehand and can generate extraordinary power off both wings. He also likes to get the crowd involved, which will endear him to the oft-raucous Parisian fans.

He is an 11/8 favourite with Planet Sport Bet to win his first French Open title and while that price is short, the hype is justified when it comes to this kid.

Novak Djokovic (2/1) is the clear second favourite with the bookies, and despite a patchy season so far don't be surprised if he makes a deep run as his career at this stage is all about the Majors.

Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev are 8/1 and 10/1 respectively, but the bookies and those in the know cannot see past Alcaraz or Djokovic.

Interestingly they are likely to meet in the semi-final as Djokovic will only be seeded third this year, with Alcaraz taking the top seed after returning to No 1 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.

If they meet it should be a generational clash you can't take your eyes off, but given how consistent and exciting Alcaraz has been in 2023 he looks the pick to win what should be the first of many French Open titles.

French Open tip: Alcaraz (11/8) and Swiatek (4/5) to win the French Open at 3.28/1 (Planet Sport Bet)

Generational clash at the French Open

The women's event also looks intriguing with Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina at the top of the betting. Defending champion and world No. 1 Swiatek is considered the favourite and is odds-on across the board to win at Roland Garros for the third time in her career.

However, Aussie Open champion Sabalenka can be unplayable on her day and also beat Swiatek in the final of the Madrid Open earlier this year. Meanwhile defending Wimbledon champion Rybakina heads to Paris with two WTA 1000 titles under her belt so far this season (Indian Wells and Rome) and also made the Australian Open final (losing to Sabalenka).

Rybakina is noted for her bullet serve, and Sabalenka possesses those frighteningly ferocious groundstrokes but the slow unforgiving Parisian clay is a great leveller against these power players and it is difficult to see past Swiatek if she is 100% fit.

There is a slight question mark over her fitness, though, after the world number one suffered a thigh injury that forced her to retire during the quarter-final of the Italian Open.

However, the updates from Iga's socials have been largely positive and she has such a great record at Roland Garros (she only dropped one set last year en route to glory).

So the picks to win this year are Iga and Carlos. The Alcaraz/Swiatek double is paying better than 3/1 with Planet Sport Bet and, like an errant lob without enough flight on it, is just sat up and waiting to be smashed.

READ MORE: French Open preview and tips: Carlos Alcaraz on the hunt and Iga Swiatek looking unbeatable

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