Alcaraz, Djokovic in the same half of the draw; Swiatek-Gauff could be in the quarterfinals – KGET 17

PARIS (AP) – Carlos Alcaraz and the man he just replaced at the top of the rankings, 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, were drawn Thursday in the same half of the French Open and could face each other in the semifinals .

Alcaraz was seeded for the first time in a Grand Slam tournament and was automatically seeded in the upper part of the section. Djokovic is No. 3 and could have finished in both halves – had he landed at the bottom, he and Alcaraz could only meet in the Roland Garros final, where 14-time champion Rafael Nadal will be missing for the first time since his debut at clay in 2005

The game starts on Sunday.

Usually last year’s singles champions are invited to appear at the draw, so 2022 winner Iga Swiatek was in attendance on Thursday. Nadal, of course, was not. However, he was the first player mentioned at the start of the ceremony by the president of the French Tennis Federation, Gilles Morreton, who said: “Unfortunately, he cannot play in the tournament this year.”

Swiatek appeared to be showing no ill effects from the injured right thigh that forced her to stop in the third set of her quarter-final match in Rome last weekend. She indicated almost immediately that the issue would not stop her from competing in Paris, where she won two of her three major trophies.

“It’s like my favorite tournament of the year, so I’m always excited to come back,” said Swiatek, who has been ranked No. 1 for more than a year. “Before the tournament, I get extra motivation to practice more, to make everything better.”

The draw put her in a potential quarter-final against No. 6 Coco Gauff in a rematch of last year’s French Open final.

Alcaraz, who just turned 20, and Djokovic, who just turned 36, have played each other only once before, in the semifinals of the Madrid Open in May 2022. Alcaraz won that one 6-7 (5), 7 -5, 7 -6 (5) — a day after defeating Nadal in the quarterfinals, becoming the first player to beat both Djokovic and Nadal in the same tournament on clay. Alcaraz won the title there with a straight sets victory over Alexander Zverev in the final.

It was Zverev who ended Alcaraz’s 14-game winning streak in the quarterfinals of the French Open last year. It was also the round in which Nadal held off Djokovic in a four-set, four-hour thriller.

This time, the seeded men’s quarterfinals will pit reigning US Open champion Alcaraz against no. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, double slam finalist; Djokovic vs. 7th Andrey Rublev; no. 2 Daniil Medvedev, winner of the US Open 2021, against no. 8 Jannik Sinner; and 4. Casper Ruud, runner-up at the French Open and US Open last year, against no. 6 by Holger Rune.

Other women’s matches in that round could be No. 4 Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion, vs. No. 7 Ons Jabeur, two-time major finalist; no. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January, against no. 5 Caroline Garcia; and no. 3 Jessica Pegula vs. no. 8 Maria Sakkari.

One player who would have been seeded, 29th-ranked Paula Badosa, withdrew before the draw, saying she had suffered a stress fracture in her spine during the Italian Open.

Swiatek will open her tournament against Cristina Bucs, the 67th-ranked Spaniard, whose career record at the French Open is 0-1.

Some intriguing first-rounders include Sabalenko vs. Marta Kostyuk, Pegula vs. 2022 Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins, and Victoria Azarenka vs. Bianca Andreescu in a showdown of past Grand Slam champions.


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