How this year’s French Open could pave the way for tennis’ next generation

French Open

Over the past 20 years, whenever one of tennis’ four majors would take place, you could almost guarantee that either Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer would be the one to hoist the trophy at the conclusion of the tournament. You could say that with even greater certainty for the French Open, with Nadal’s résumé on the clay surface nothing short of dominant.

The Spaniard has won at Roland-Garros on 14 occasions, six more than the tournament’s second most successful player Max Decugis, who achieved eight French Championships in the pre-Open era. And while fans and pundits shouldn’t count out Nadal in 2023’s edition – it appears as though the sport of tennis is undergoing somewhat of a changing of the guard. 

With such a talented crop of young players, coupled with the fact that Djokovic and Nadal continue to experience injury woes – and this year’s tournament in Paris could pave the way for tennis’ next generation. 

With that in mind, read on as we take a look at the well-backed players under the age of 25 for the upcoming French Open.

Carlos Alcaraz

The overall betting favourite at 6/4 to win the 2023 French Open is Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz. It’s amazing to think he is just 19 years of age considering what he has already achieved in the sport. Bursting on to the scene in 2020 as a 16-year-old, Alcarez secured his maiden ATP Tour victory in 2021, defeating top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the 2021 Croatia Open Umag.

His enormous potential was noticeable from the outset – and he managed to turn that into the ultimate success at last year’s US Open, reigning supreme at Flushing Meadows by besting fifth seed Casper Ruud in four sets – and in doing so – became the youngest men’s US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990.

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Despite a less than stellar start to his 2023 campaign, in which he was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open due to a hamstring injury – Alcaraz’s form since has been nothing short of exceptional. With three tour titles this calendar year, of which includes victories at the Argentina Open, the Indian Wells Masters and the Barcelona Open – and Alcaraz couldn’t be entering May’s Grand Slam in better nick.

If Alcaraz can take the form he has shown over the last few months into the French Open – he will prove incredibly difficult to beat.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Entering as the fourth favourite at 9/1, 24-year-old Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas will be looking to finally get over the hump and secure his maiden Grand Slam title this month. He has been close on many occasions, reaching the final of the French Open in 2021 and at the Australian Open in 2023. He came up short on both occasions however, and will be under pressure to ensure he can go one better in Paris this year.

There’s no doubting that he has the talent to do so, with his style of play one of the most versatile on tour. However, it’s his temperament which has plagued him in the past – as he oftentimes lets his opponents back into the game through ill-advised shots in big moments. If Tsitsipas can maintain his composure at the end of sets and utilise his phenomenal backhand with regularity – he could be one to watch.

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Holger Rune

Ranked as high as number seven in the world, up-and-coming Danish star Holger Rune has shown a boatload of potential since turning professional in 2020. While he hasn’t taken the tour by storm quite like that of the aforementioned Alcaraz – Rune has displayed enough talent to suggest that he will be challenging for Grand Slam titles for many years to come. 

His best results at a major include a quarter final and fourth round appearance at the French Open and Australian Open respectively – and if he is to improve on that finish at Roland Garros this time around – he will have to do it without former coach Patrick Mouratoglou – with the pair announcing last month that they will be parting ways.

Since the announcement, Rune has put forth some notable performances, reaching the final of the Monte-Carlo Masters, to coincide with a BMW Open triumph. For those who believe Rune can continue his solid form in Paris – at the time of writing – the 20-year-old is paying 16/1 with certain operators.