Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz could meet in French Open semi-final | French Open 2023

French Open 2023

  • Spanish top seed faces tricky path to final in Roland Garros draw
  • Iga Swiatek faces Cristina Busca, Cam Norrie plays Benoît Paire

Thu 25 May 2023 12.52 EDT

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz were drawn in the same half of the French Open, meaning a potential semi-final between the two tournament favourites is possible in the most open men’s singles draw at Roland Garros in 19 years given the absence of Rafael Nadal.

After regaining his No 1 ranking at the Italian Open last week, Alcaraz will begin a grand slam tournament as the top seed for the first time in his career and he will start against a qualifier or lucky loser.

Should 20-year-old Alcaraz and 36-year-old Djokovic meet in the semi-final, it would be their first contest in over a year, dating back to Alcaraz’s victory over Djokovic in the Madrid Open.

The 14-time champion Nadal withdrew from the tournament last week as the Spaniard announced he would be taking a break after his recent injury struggles.

Before Alcaraz considers the prospect of a semi-final with Djokovic, other big names are looming in his section. He could face 2021 Roland Garros runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fifth seed, in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic was unexpectedly pushed down to the third seeding as a result of Daniil Medvedev’s surprise first career ATP clay court title in Rome. In the bottom half, Medvedev starts against a qualifier, while Casper Ruud, the fourth seed, and eighth seed, Jannik Sinner, head the lower half of that section.

There are no British players in the women’s draw after six were defeated in the qualifying round earlier this week. This tournament will mark the first time since the 2009 US Open that no British players will feature in the main draw of a grand slam.

Iga Swiatek remains the tournament favourite as she looks for her third Roland Garros title after an injury scare at the Italian Open last week. Swiatek, who begins her tournament against Cristina Bucsa of Spain, retired from the third set of her Italian Open match against Elena Rybakina with a thigh injury.

After taking some days off, Swiatek has been practising at Roland Garros. She faces a difficult potential fourth round match against Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, who has defeated her in their last two meetings. Elsewhere, Rome champion Elena Rybakina, the fourth seed, has also been drawn in Swiatek’s half but the pair cannot meet before the semi-finals.

The bottom half is led by Aryna Sabalenka, who begins with a tough first round match against Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. Jessica Pegula, the third seed, will face former Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in her first match.

The British men’s No 1 Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, will have to neutralise the unpredictable flair of Benoît Paire, and the partisan French crowd, when the 14th seed opens his campaign in the first round.

Jack Draper faces a tough opening round match against Tomás Etcheverry of Argentina and 20th seed Dan Evans will start against wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.

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