Is Carlos Alcaraz the clear favourite to win the French Open?
Carlos Alcaraz eased to a comfortable victory over Alexander Zverev in a rematch of last year’s Madrid Open final – and now the question has to be whether he is the clear favourite to win the French Ipen.
Zverev is still trying to rediscover his best form after suffering a serious ankle injury at the French Open last summer and this time he was no match for the young Spaniard, who claimed a 6-1 6-2 victory to reach the quarter-finals at the Caja Magica.
Alcaraz, bidding for back-to-back titles after winning in Barcelona last week, dominated from the start and Zverev could find no answers, with his forehand particularly wayward.
Alcaraz, who turns 20 on Friday, said in an on-court interview: “For me it’s amazing to play the level that I played today.
“It’s been a question mark for me – this result isn’t normal. I played great, I feel really good right now and this match gives me a lot of confidence.
“I did feel it (nervous) a little bit at the beginning but you have to handle the nerves. The best players adapt really well. I want to be like them, trying not to show the opponent that I’m nervous at all.
“I just want to enjoy playing here in the Caja Magica in front of my home crowd. It’s been amazing for me to play here. I just enjoy every moment.”
Odds makers have already installed Alcaraz as the favourite to win the French Open for the first time in his career, but that is based primarily on the injury concerns around Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
World No 1 Djokovic is nursing an elbow injury that saw him miss this week’s tournament in Madrid and there is no clue whether he will be at his best by the time the French Open starts later this month.
He has suffered disappointing early exits in his last two tournaments and has more questions to answer about his fitness than at any point in recent years.
Meanwhile, the rumours continue to swirl around Nadal’s future, as he has yet to make an appearance in an ATP Tour event since playing in the ATP Cup in January.
Nadal was also forced to pull out of Madrid as his latest injury problem ‘has not healed’ and while have been suggestions from his camp that he will play at the French Open, the 14-time Roland Garros champion is unlikely to have too much match practice before attempting to play in Paris.
As Alcaraz beat both Djokovic and Nadal on his way to the Madrid Open title last year, his clay court credentials cannot be questioned and he is a better player now than he was a year ago.
Djokovic and Nadal fans continue to insist their heroes are the kings of the sport and until they have been beaten in e Grand Slam by Alcaraz, that position holds some weight.
Yet it seems like Alcaraz is ready to take over at the top and that perception will doubtless inspire the aging icons looking in on his success to come back stronger than ever.
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