Roulette, blackjack or craps, as many games of chance as opportunities to ruin yourself, or to get rich. Having fun predicting the outcome of the men’s part of Roland-Garros is akin to the idea of ​​entering a casino. Where no certainty exists, because it will be the most open tournament in the last 15 years.

For the first time since 2004, Rafael Nadal will be absent from the main draw of the second major tournament of the season. The holder of 14 titles at the Porte d’Auteuil wants to heal a hip injury and relearn to love his sport.

It would therefore be reasonable to believe that in such a case, the chances of other competitors inevitably increase. However, the number of title contenders is also on the rise, making the possibilities nearly endless.

The 2023 edition will be that of all possibilities. The clay-court game this season is beautifully unpredictable and exceptionally uncompromising.

At the slightest mistake, another player takes the lead. No exit from the track will be allowed on the Parisian sand, because like Tasmanian devils around a carcass, everyone will want to bite into their chance of accessing the title.

Proponents of the idea that the Big Three are still alive are surely the same ones who believe they need yet another season of The Voice. We have to stop living in the past.

Tennis today is looking to the future. The average age of the members of the world’s top 10 is 24.4 years old. Of the lot, Novak Djokovic, at 36, distorts the data somewhat.

The victories come from everywhere and the surprises are multiple week after week.

Starting with Daniil Medvedev, player of the hour on the circuit, who suddenly became a threat on clay, after five years of repeating that this surface, “made for dogs”, was the worst of all. .

For the moment, Carlos Alcaraz remains the favorite to succeed his Spanish compatriot. He sits at the top of the world rankings and he is undeniably the best player on clay. He also won the Barcelona tournament and the Madrid tournament.

Holger Rune, meanwhile, has every reason to arrive in the French capital with confidence, enthusiasm… and arrogance. The new enfant terrible of tennis has just reached the final of the Rome tournament, eclipsing Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud.

He also won honors in Munich, having lost in the final in Monte Carlo to Andrey Rublev. He has confidence, the young man, and he already has the character necessary to aspire to great honors.

They are young, but they are already veterans. Unfortunately, players like Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev “fell between two cracks”. Just in the mouth between the end of the Big Three and the rise of new faces. Thus, they never had the expected success in Grand Slam tournaments.

Admittedly, Medvedev won the United States Open in 2021, but he also lost three times in the final. Against all odds, he plays marvelously well on clay, as evidenced by his career in Rome. He is the player of the year on the ATP Tour. He already has five titles this season, more than anyone, and this opening could be beneficial for the second player in the world.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev suffered from the same lack of chances. At 24 and 25 respectively, it’s not too late. However, before Alcaraz, Rune, Jannik Sinner and Félix Auger-Aliassime take on more of the stripe, they must put major titles in the bank. Tsitsipas and Rublev each have four career titles on clay. They have also done very well since the start of the season.

Anyone with a modicum of respect for the sport would have liked to see Nadal savor his 23rd major title at Roland-Garros and thus seize the first rank in the history of men’s tennis.

Even if he is rather quiet this season having played only six tournaments, Novak Djokovic has still found a way to win the Australian Open, his 22nd Grand Slam title, and the Adelaide tournament.

If there is one who can take advantage of Nadal’s absence, it is the Serb. Only one player other than Nadal has won the tournament in the last seven years and that’s the Djoker.

He arguably reserved his best hand for the second major tournament of the season. As chance will be able to generate many surprises, the experience card will perhaps be the strongest.

With the absence of Rafael Nadal, the table is wide open at Roland Garros for the top eight players in the world rankings. However, as the Parisian clay court holds countless surprises, here are five players who can sneak in where you least expect them.

Even though he’s only 21, we’ve seen Musetti coming for quite a while now. The Italian with the brilliant one-handed backhand is a clay-court specialist. Eighteen of his 25 games in 2023 have been played on this surface. Roland-Garros is its Super Bowl. Musetti has played many games against higher ranked players and he will have had the upper hand, especially against Jannik Sinner, Cameron Norrie and Frances Tiafoe. The 18th player in the world is one of the most experienced players on the clay court as the biggest tournament approaches.

Fallout of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Aslan Karatsev in Madrid, Struff gave Carlos Alcaraz a hard time in the final. The gentle giant played his first five games of the season on hard courts, but since then he has played only on clay. Offensive and very big server, at first glance, the style of play of the 26th racket in the world does not seem to necessarily mold to the surface of the second major tournament of the season. However, he plays it very well. He’s won more than 50% of his matches over the past year and his only two career finals have come on clay.

At the start of the season, while the majority of players opted to play indoor tournaments on hard courts, Norrie chose to play on clay instead. So in Buenos Aires he lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the final, but the following week in Rio he got his revenge to claim top honors. Norrie is first and foremost a grass player, it’s part of his DNA. The Briton is still able to hold his own on clay. He’s been playing well this season, he’s the 10th player with the most points.

Ćorić’s favorite surface is not clay. However, according to statistics, it was on this one that he achieved the most success since the start of his career with a win ratio of 56.1%. In his last two tournaments, in Madrid and Rome, he made it to the semi-finals and quarter-finals. At 26, he’s ranked 16th in the world thanks to surges in the 1000 Series tournaments. Perhaps that confidence could see him work his way into the main draw.

Yes, Alexander Zverev still plays tennis! Almost everyone seems to have forgotten him since his horrific injury suffered in the semi-finals of the Roland-Garros tournament last year against Rafael Nadal. At his best, Zverev is definitely one of the top five players on the planet. In his last eight Grand Slam tournaments, he has reached the semi-finals four times, including twice in Paris. The German returned to action in January and since then has won 16 of his 30 games.