For the French, without their N.1 Gaël Monfils who withdrew, the objectives are much lower and the only event to celebrate may be the end of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's career.

"This court has something that makes it play 30% better": after watching on the Central the training of Rafael Nadal, the man with 13 titles on Parisian clay, the world N.3 Alexander Zverev n did not hide his admiration.

"Suddenly, his forehand goes 30 km/h faster, he is lighter on his legs...", adds the German.

The Spaniard, who will celebrate his 36th birthday on June 3, the day of the semi-finals, however makes no secret of the sword of Damocles which threatens him: the pain in his left foot which no longer leaves him can become unbearable at any time.

"The question is whether his intensity will allow me to play with real chances," explained Nadal himself.

5 players to watch from the 2022 Roland-Garros Grand Slam tournament AFP

He believes that if he is spared the pain and is able to play well, "history shows that (his) chances of winning at Roland-Garros are higher than in Australia".

In Melbourne, in the absence of Djokovic, he pushed the record for Grand Slam titles to 21 in January. He could therefore move two steps ahead of Djokovic and Federer by winning a 22nd Major on June 5.

Djoko sees himself there

The Serbian, defending champion in Paris, said that "when we talk about the favorites at Roland-Garros, we can't help but put Nadal at the top of the list".

But once he said that, and cited the phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz as another of the suitors, Djokovic is not forgotten.

Serbian Novak Djokovic (G), world No.1, plays with a ball boy during a training session on Court Philippe-Chatrier on the eve of the opening of the Roland Garros tournament on Saturday May 21, 2022 in Paris Thomas SAMSON AFP

"I believe in my abilities (...) to fight for one of the most prestigious trophies in tennis. And even more as defending champion", he asserted two days before the start of the tournament where he won two of his twenty Majors.

"It took me two tournaments to feel that I was really getting closer to the level I was aiming for and I reached in Rome where I won the tournament without losing a set," he warned.

Another, even more dazzling rise to power is that of Alcaraz who, at 19, has the game, the physique and the will to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

But will he have the mind?

Djokovic underlined the advantage that experience gives him: "With all due respect to the players (...) I believe in my chances because I have done it before and I know what it takes", he noted.

The Swiatek series

An advantage he will also have over Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas whose dream he shattered last year by beating him in the final after being down two sets to nil.

5 players to watch during the 2022 Roland-Garros Grand Slam tournament AFP

Fate wanted things to start settling fairly early on since Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz and Zverev are all in the top half of the table, with a Djokovic-Nadal expected from the quarter-finals.

Tsitsipas will be favorite for the final ticket at the bottom of the table.

In the women's table, for the first time in a long time, a favorite stands out: the Polish Iga Swiatek, surprise winner in 2020 but who presents herself this year, at 20, in world N.1 and with a series of 28 games won in a row with titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome.

"I'm aware that this streak may end soon and I don't want to be too disappointed when that happens. So I'm going to take the matches one after the other like I did in previous tournaments," he said. she commented.

The Polish Iga Swiatek, engaged in the Miami tournament, on April 2, 2022 is the huge favorite for Roland-Garros MATTHEW STOCKMAN Getty/AFP/Archives

In the event of victory, she would become the first player crowned a second time at Roland-Garros since Serena Williams won her 3rd title there in 2015.

© 2022 AFP