Djokovic in the unknown, Alcaraz strong in certainties

Djokovic in the unknown, Alcaraz strong in certainties

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Djokovic-Alcaraz would be a shock that the public, who will be back after a canceled 2020 edition and a 2021 edition behind closed doors due to covid, would be eagerly awaiting. But if the presence at this stage of Alcaraz is probable, where is Djokovic? That’s the big question.

At the end of an extraordinary 2021 season where he was one game away from winning the Grand Slam (beaten in US Open final by Daniil Medvedev), the Serb got bogged down in a politico-sanitaro-sports-judicial mic mac by refusing to comply with the vaccination against Covid. A stubbornness which deprived him of the first quarter of competition.

Expelled from Australia just before the start of the first Major of the year, the world No.1 was only able to play in February in Dubai (beaten in the 3rd round) where the vaccine is not compulsory and notably missed the American hard court tour (Indian Wells and Miami). In total, the man who will begin his 365th week (record) on Monday at the top of the world hierarchy, has therefore only played three games in just over four months, since the Davis Cup semi-final lost by Serbia. against Croatia.

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The threat

During his absence, Nadal won in Melbourne and thus brought the record of major titles to 21, Medvedev briefly stripped him of the world throne (two weeks) and a new heavy threat appeared on the circuit: Alcaraz, who fell from 133rd to 11th place at the ATP in one year.

The 18-year-old Spaniard made his mark on the courts of Indian Wells, where he lost in three sets against Nadal in the semis, and Miami where he landed his first Masters 1000.

Tsitsipas is one of the favorites for the title in a private tournament including Medvedev, Nadal and Matteo Berrettini (injured). The Greek (5th) was not dazzling in the United States where he lost in the 3rd round in Indian Wells and in the 8th round (against Alcaraz) in Miami.

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But clay is his favorite surface: after winning his very first Masters 1000 last year in Monte-Carlo – and the only one to date – he made it to the final at Roland-Garros where he led two sets. zero against Djokovic.

Tsitsipas is in the half of the table of Alexander Zverev (3rd) whom he could face in the semi-finals on condition that he eventually passes Félix Auger-Aliassime in the quarters, and that the German does the same against Andrey Rublev (8th) , finalist of the last edition.

Another player is eagerly awaited on the courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club: Stan Wawrinka who won the title in 2014 by beating Roger Federer in the final.

farewell tour

The Swiss, ex-N.3 in the world now 236th, is trying to return to competition after a year spent treating a left foot injury that he had been dragging on since 2019.

But at 37, such a comeback is very complicated: the three-time Grand Slam winner (Australian Open 2014, Roland-Garros 2015, US Open 2016) lost at the Marbella Challenger entry in March against the Swede Elias Ymer (131st).

This edition of the Monegasque tournament will also mark the start of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s farewell tour who will retire at Roland-Garros. The former world No.5 and French No.1, who fell to 220th place in the ATP, received an invitation from the organizers, but not the favors of the draw: after Marin Cilic (23rd) in the first round he is promised Taylor Fritz (13th), Alcaraz and Djokovic…

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The draw was generally difficult for the French since Gaël Monfils (22nd) inherited Hubert Hurkacz (14th), Ugo Humbert (47th) from Pedro Martinez (46th), Benoît Paire (49th) from Lorenzo Musetti (82nd), Arthur Rinderknech (58th) by Fabio Fognini (32nd and winner in 2019). Richard Gasquet (86th) will have to go through qualifying.

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