5 min read
The men’s Roland Garros draw ceremony led to audible gasps almost heard around the world. Out of 58 career meetings, Novak Djokovic (UTR Rating 16.15) and Rafael Nadal (16.13) have only met before the semifinals nine times. In fact, 50% of their showdowns have taken place in championship matches. That won't be the case in Paris — far from it.
Djokovic and Nadal are in the same quarter as well as the same half as Carlos Alcaraz (16.11) and Alexander Zverev (15.88). Stefanos Tsitsipas (15.96) and Daniil Medvedev (16.09) are with Casper Ruud (15.75) and Andrey Rublev (15.78) in the bottom half.
It's time for a closer look at the men’s favorites and dark horses, with the help of Universal Tennis INSIGHTS, an algorithm-based prediction tool offering unique analysis and stats.
THE MEN'S FAVORITES ACCORDING TO INSIGHTS
(1) Novak Djokovic — 17%
(5) Rafael Nadal — 15%
(6) Carlos Alcaraz — 13%
(2) Daniil Medvedev — 12%
(4) Stefanos Tsitsipas — 8%
(13) Taylor Fritz — 5%
(3) Alexander Zverev — 4%
(11) Jannik Sinner — 4%
(27) Sebastian Korda — 2%
(8) Casper Ruud — 2%
Now for a closer look at some key players in the field.
Most Likely to Win the Title
(1) Novak Djokovic (UTR Rating 16.15)
Djokovic is the defending champion, but he’s got his work cut out for him despite his 17% INSIGHTS chances of winning again. He’ll start his Paris defense against Yoshihito Nishioka (15.14) and the first seed he could face is No. 31 Jenson Brooksby (15.59). Nadal is looming in the quarterfinals, followed by Alcaraz or Zverev. The top half is stacked, to say the very least.
Djokovic suffered a third-set tiebreak loss to Alcaraz in the Madrid semifinals but bounced back to go all the way in Rome without losing a set, with wins over both Tsitsipas and Ruud.
(5) Rafael Nadal (UTR Rating 16.13)
Just behind Djokovic with 15% odds of capturing his 14th Roland Garros, Nadal opens against Jordan Thompson (14.70) and could have to deal with 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka (15.20) in the second round.
Barcelona and Madrid are usually part of Nadal’s title-haul stops on his way to Paris, having won Barcelona 12 times, Madrid five times, and Rome 10 times. This year, he skipped Barcelona, lost to Alcaraz in the Madrid semifinals, and fell to Denis Shapovalv early in Rome.
Still, his 2022 season started with a 17-match win streak (including the end of a tite draught at the Australian Open). Despite fewer matches on clay than usual in the lead-up to Paris, it may help keep his body fresh.
Most Likely to Go Deep
(6) Carlos Alcaraz (UTR Rating 16.11)
Alcaraz is playing in just his second Roland Garros main draw and yet he’s one of the top favorites. The Spaniard was barely inside of the ATP Top 100 this time last year and now enters the major as the No. 6 seed. While it might seem crazy to think that the 19-year-old can win Roland Garros, remember that Nadal was that same age when he won his first title in Paris in 2005, in his debut.
It's possible that no player is more in form than Alcaraz right now. Since the Australian Open, he has put together a 28-2 record with titles in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona, and Madrid. He bested Nadal, Djokovic, and Zverev across three exemplary days in Madrid.
Holger Rune (UTR Rating 15.48)
Holger Rune has been quickly becoming a known name on tour and his first opponent Denis Shapovalov (15.54) should know it well even though its their first meeting. Shapovalov is the No. 14 seed but INSIGHTS shows that Rune has 44% odds of scoring the upset. If Rune can pull it off, the next seed he could face is No. 19 Alex De Minaur (15.65) followed by No. 4 Tsitsipas.
(28) Miomir Kecmanovic (UTR Rating 15.70)
Miomir Kecmanovic is at the very bottom of the draw near No. 2 seed Medvedev, who he could play in the third round. It’s a tough ask but the 22-year-old Serbian enters at his career-high ATP ranking of No. 31 and he's No. 15 in the world based on UTR Rating. Most of his recent losses have come in tight battles against eventual champions: Taylor Fritz (15.87) in Indian Wells, Alcaraz in Miami, and Djokovic in Belgrade.
UTR Pro Tennis Tour Players to Watch
Four UTR Pro Tennis Tour players appeared in the men's qualifying event, and Brooksby leads the way in the main draw as one of the fastest-rising players to watch. The 21-year-old was playing on the PTT at the start of 2021 before his career took off, and he’s seeded at a major for the first time.
A group of talented juniors will look to leave their mark on the clay including Cooper Williams, Ethan Quinn, Learner Tien, Aidan Kim, and recent Easter Bowl U18 champion Alex Michelsen.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, May 20, 2022.