PARIS (AFP) – Carlos Alcaraz headlines the first day of the French Open yesterday as the teenage Spanish sensation gives Roland Garros a glimpse of the future of Grand Slam tennis.
The 19-year-old, bidding to become just the eighth teenager to capture a major men’s title, is widely tipped to end the dominance of 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and two-time winner Novak Djokovic.
Alcaraz is the tour’s dominant player in 2022, winning a season-leading 28 matches with just three losses.
Three of his titles have come on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid where he defeated Nadal, Djokovic and world number three Alexander Zverev to take the title.
Alcaraz begins his French Open campaign against Argentine lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero, ranked at 141 but who made the last 16 in 2019.
Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year. He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.
“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.
Top seed Djokovic, who turns 35 yesterday , and fifth-seeded Nadal, with 41 Grand Slam titles between them, are not in action on the first day.