The second grand slam of the year, the French Open is around the corner and the field is pretty tight this time around. With Novak Djokovic getting back in form and the exponential rise of Carlos Alcaraz, for the first time in many years, Rafael Nadal may not be the overwhelming favorite to win the French Open. Nadal started the season on a high but got injured during the Indian Wells Masters and was hence sidelined for a month.
Even on his return, he wasn’t 100% fit and his chronic foot condition once again kicked in. Due to the given circumstances, Nadal is not the favorite but is definitely among the top 3. But 4-time Wimbledon finalist Tim Henman believes otherwise. Talking to Eurosport, Henman said that if Nadal’s foot is healthy, he will be a slight favorite and very close behind the other two favorites- Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.
“I think if Rafa’s foot is healthy – given his record there – you have to make him a very slight favorite, but very close behind him I would have Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz,” Henman said.
‘I really believe that Alcaraz can win the French Open’: Tim Henman
Henman also spoke highly of Alcaraz, who has won 4 titles already this season including two Masters titles. The expert believes that Alcaraz can win the French Open and explained his belief by saying that he watched the 19-year-old play at Miami and everything about his game is incredible.
“I really believe that Alcaraz can win the French Open. I watched him play in Miami, which was obviously on hard courts, but his movement, his speed, his balance, the power that he’s generating with his groundstrokes, is incredible,” he said.
“His attitude on top is amazing. So for him to have won Barcelona and Madrid also, he goes into Roland Garros as one of the favorites in my mind. Obviously, if Nadal’s foot is 100% then I still think he is the favorite, but I would put Novak Djokovic and Alcaraz as the second favorites.”
Henman further analyzed Alcaraz’s technical game and said that the only thing that should worry Alcaraz and his team is his inexperience. Playing in one of the biggest stadiums in the world could be very intimidating, he said.
“Technically he’s so sound. His forehand and backhand are so aggressive. His service is improving all the time. I talked about his movement, his speed, his balance, his flexibility, but mentally is probably for me the most impressive because he’s still so young,” he said. “He’s still very inexperienced, and he’s playing in the biggest stadiums against the best players in the world. He’s able to handle those situations. He’s obviously led by Juan Carlos Ferrero and he’s looking in great shape.”