Djokovic and Nadal must ‘suffer like crazy’ to beat Carlos Alcaraz to French Open glory

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Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will be painfully aware of the threat posed to their French Open title hopes by Carlos Alcaraz at this year’s tournament, according to two-time Roland Garros runner-up and Warner Bros. Discovery expert Alex Corretja. Alcaraz has emerged as one of the sport’s biggest stars over the last few months after experiencing a rapid rise to prominence and beating the likes of Nadal and Djokovic on his way to winning the Madrid Open title earlier this month.

Alcaraz will be hoping to make the most of his positive momentum by challenging for his maiden Grand Slam crown at this year’s French Open, which is set to get underway in Paris on Sunday. Corretja believes that although Djokovic and Nadal will be the favourites to claim the top prize at Roland Garros, they will be under no illusions over the possibility of Alcaraz upsetting the odds and beating them to the post as he managed to do in Madrid.

“They know that he’s got unbelievable potential,” Corretja told Express Sport. “They know that he’s dangerous, they saw him play and they played against him and they felt how difficult it is to play against him.

“They’ve got so much experience and so much knowledge of the game to understand anyone. They know Alcaraz is going to be super difficult to beat at Roland Garros because he’s young, he’s coming with a win [in Madrid] behind him, pushing him so much.

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“It feels like he is going to be very aggressive and if someone wants to beat Alcaraz they know they will need to run and suffer like crazy. The only chance I see is that they beat him because they’ve got more experience.

“If not, Alcaraz is younger, he doesn’t have any feeling of pressure right now because everything is new and I think he’s going to be very difficult to beat. I don’t think he should be the top favourite because I think Djokovic and especially Nadal, if he recovers well from his foot, they should have the advantage.”

Alcaraz will begin his French Open campaign against qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero after he was handed a favourable opening tie in Thursday’s first-round draw. The Spaniard finds himself in the same half as Djokovic and Nadal, though, meaning that he could face either player in the semi-finals if he manages to make it into the last four at Roland Garros.

Djokovic, who is making his first Grand Slam appearance in Paris after he was forced to sit out of the Australian Open back in January, will take on Yoshihito Nishioka on Monday as he looks to get off to the perfect start in the French capital. Nadal, meanwhile, will be tasked with overcoming Jordan Thompson in his opening match of the tournament and could meet Djokovic in the last eight if he avoids an early exit.

Watch every match from Roland Garros live and exclusive coverage on discovery+ and Eurosport.

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