Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 and Carlos Alcaraz - Roland Garros 2023

Novak Djokovic backed as Roland Garros ‘favourite’ over Carlos Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic has been labelled as ‘the favourite’ for the Roland Garros title over No.1 Carlos Alcaraz by seven-time major winner Mats Wilander, who suggested the Serb could ‘play until he’s 40 years old’.

Djokovic made a winning start to his Roland Garros campaign with a straight sets victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic, 6-3 6-2 7-6(1), moving the No.3 one step closer to a potential clash with Alcaraz who also won his opening match in comfortable fashion.

Before his first round match Djokovic had claimed that Alcaraz was the ‘biggest favourite’ for the Coupe des Mousquetaires this year, but Wilander has argued that the 22-time Grand Slam champion would have enough match time before meeting the Spaniard in the semi-final.

“I think if Alcaraz plays his best tennis, I think that it would be very difficult for anyone to beat him,” Wilander said. “But you have to make him play worse, and I think Novak Djokovic is one of the few guys that can actually, somehow, make Alcaraz doubt himself, make Alcaraz come up with unforced errors which he doesn’t do against other players.”

The former No.1 continued, “He [Djokovic] is going to get five matches before he runs into Alcaraz – that’s enough practice for Djokovic.”

“Yes, it’s uncomfortable because you can be blown off the court by Alcaraz – that’s just the name of the game, that’s being 36 years old against a 20-year-old. That’s always been the case but Novak – I think he is the favourite in my eyes.”

Wilander also spoke about how Djokovic’s attitude has helped and will continue to help him play for many years to come, “When you talk to Novak, he’s so humble these days. I actually think that is the main reason why he is able to keep going, because he does take it day by day.”

He added, “I think he can play until he’s 40 years old, he looks so young and is so fresh. He’s keen, he’s motivated – even in interviews with me!”

Djokovic will play his second round match tomorrow against Marton Fucsovics, who he has beaten in all four previous meetings, with Alcaraz coming up against Taro Daniel.

Novak Djokovic vs Carlos Alcaraz head-to-head

Despite Djokovic and Alcaraz both holding Grand Slam titles, the pair have only played on one previous occasion and the result does not support Wilander’s claims.

Here is their only meeting to date:

Madrid Open Semi-final (2022): Carlos Alcaraz beat Novak Djokovic, 6(5)-7 7-5 7-6(5) 

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.