Will Novak Djokovic win a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title at the French Open? Will Iga Swiatek deliver as the huge pre-tournament favourite? How far will Carlos Alcaraz go? Will Emma Raducanu make an impact on her debut?
The 2022 French Open starts on May 22 with exclusive coverage live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk, the Eurosport app and on-demand on discovery+.
We look at some of the top storylines and players to keep an eye on in Paris…
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Djokovic's powers will be tested

What do Rafael Nadal and Gustavo Kuerten have in common? Aside from both being at home on clay, they are the only two players to win back-to-back titles at the French Open this century (Kuerten in 2000 and 2001, Nadal numerous times).
Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have all had their moment in Paris over the last 15 years, but have not been able to return the following year and win the title again.
Djokovic appears as well placed as ever to join Nadal and Kuerten by successfully defending his title, even though a rough draw put Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev in his half.
After a slow start on clay due to his inactivity in the first quarter of the season, the world No. 1 has hit form, making the semi-finals in Madrid and then blowing past the field in Rome without dropping a set. He has declared himself in the “best shape” possible ahead of the French Open and he has deservedly leapfrogged Alcaraz, who did'nt play Rome, as the favourite.
Beating Djokovic over five sets has been one of the toughest feats in tennis over the last few years; only Daniil Medvedev did it in 2021 in the final of the US Open, and in 2020 Djokovic’s only two Grand Slam losses were the US Open disqualification against Pablo Carreno Busta and defeat to Nadal in the French Open final.
Yes he’s lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Andrey Rublev and Alcaraz on clay this season, yes he has a tricky draw, but Djokovic looks to be peaking again at the right time.

Swiatek entering Nadal favouritism

While the men’s field looks competitive at the top, the women’s side only looks so if you take away Swiatek.
The world No. 1 has been utterly dominant over the last few months, winning 28 matches in a row, sweeping up five titles, and establishing herself as a clear favourite for the French Open.
“She feels like Rafa felt during a lot of the years of his successes,” former world No. 1 Andy Roddick told Tennis Channel.

Iga Swiatek of Poland waves to Rafael Nadal of Spain at the training session change over after training on Court Philippe Chatrier in preparation for the 2022 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 19th 2022 in Paris, France.

Image credit: Getty Images

It’s not impossible that Swiatek will lose in Paris – she was the favourite last year and was beaten in the quarter-finals by Maria Sakkari – but it will be a huge upset if she does. Swiatek has power, speed, ever-improving variety in her game, a calmness under pressure, and is able to problem solve and adjust on court when things aren’t going her way.
Jelena Ostapenko was the last player to get the better of Swiatek three months ago in a wild match in Dubai that featured 16 breaks of serve. And the 2017 French Open champion could have the chance to stop the streak as she is a potential fourth-round opponent.

Alcaraz aims to take next step

“I’m not afraid to say that I’m ready to win a Grand Slam.”
Alcaraz is not short of confidence ahead of only his second main-draw appearance in Paris, and why wouldn’t he be? He has shown this year that he is going to be a star and in Madrid, where he went through Nadal, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to win the title, proved that he can already beat the best.
Not playing in Rome seemed a wise move and perhaps keeps his stock higher rather than if he had played and lost to Djokovic. But is Alcaraz really ready to make his Grand Slam breakthrough already?
There are obvious parallels with the last male teenager to win a major - Nadal at the French Open in 2005 - and it does now seem a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ for Alcaraz. Inexperience over five sets seems to be the main knock against him, yet Nadal won in 2005 in similar circumstances, playing only his sixth Grand Slam main draw (the same as Alcaraz) and with only nine Grand Slam match wins (Alcaraz has 10).
Whether he wins or not, Alcaraz's presence in the draw looks set to tee up some blockbuster matches in the second week

'Content' Osaka returns

One of the most shocking stories from last year’s French Open was Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the tournament ahead of the second round after she was fined for opting not to speak to the press. The 24-year-old said she wanted to protect her mental health and 12 months on her move seems to have helped spur on discussions and concerns around players' mental health.
For Osaka, she said recently she is now “very content” with her “mental health journey” and has found talking to a therapist “incredibly helpful”.
Whether that translates to success at the French Open remains to be seen - Osaka and clay has so far not been a winning combination. The world No. 38 has won four Grand Slams on hard courts but is yet to make it past the third round in Paris. She also withdrew from the Italian Open due to an Achilles injury and faces a tricky first-round match against Amanda Anisimova, who beat Osaka in a three-set thriller at the Australian Open.
French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo told Eurosport that changes have been made to the press area following comments made by Osaka last year.

Tsitsipas winner of lopsided draw

It’s unfortunate for world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev that among the top six men’s seeds for this year's French Open he sticks out for the wrong reasons.
Clay is not Medvedev's favourite surface - his win-loss record is 15–22 - and although he made the quarter-finals last year, he had not previously won a match at the tournament in four appearances.
Even if he was playing well he would be in a tier below Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz et al. but after six weeks out due to injury he looks even more vulnerable. So if there's a big winner from Thursday's draw it's Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Last year's runner-up was placed on the same half of the draw as Medvedev, meaning he can't meet Djokovic, Zverev, Nadal or Alcaraz until the final. It looks a perfect result for Tsitsipas, who was two sets up on Djokovic in the final in 2021 and has arguably been the most consistent ATP player on clay this season, winning in Monte Carlo, then making the quarter-finals in Barcelona, semi-finals in Madrid, and final in Rome.
As for Medvedev, he has said if he can find his "level again" he could be "dangerous", but it would be a shock if he goes deep at Roland-Garros.
Women's defending champion Barbora Krejcikova could be in a similar position considering she hasn't played since February due to injury.

Could coachless Raducanu make a run?

The clay season has brought up familiar problems for Raducanu: injury niggles.
Her short career has so far been disrupted by physical setbacks, the latest a back injury which could hamper her chances at the French Open. Raducanu was forced to retire from her Italian Open first-round match with Bianca Andreescu due to the issue and she said afterwards that she doesn’t want to play the “next match still with physical problems”.

'Maybe she doesn't need a full-time coach' - Schett backs Raducanu to be 'dangerous' at French Open

Maybe a few weeks’ rest would be best for Raducanu ahead of the grass season, but it looks like she is poised to make her French Open debut. There’s still no sign of a replacement for Torben Beltz, so the Lawn Tennis Association’s head of women’s tennis Iain Bates is likely to be Raducanu’s stand-in coach again. Bates will be the fourth ‘coach’ in Raducanu’s box in the last four Grand Slams she has played.
Amid the niggling injuries there have been promising signs with Raducanu’s run to the quarter-finals in Stuttgart and last 16 in Madrid. She is also only one of two players to have won more than seven games against Swiatek in her 28-match winning run.

Halep, Andreescu potential dangers

Aside from potentially three or four of the top 10 it’s difficult to pick out too many players who could stop Swiatek from winning the French Open.
Former champion Ostapenko has beaten her in all three of their meetings so is perhaps one to watch, although she has been in poor form lately. Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu may also be names to keep an eye out for in the draw.
Halep, who won the French Open in 2018, is seeded 19th and seems to be revitalised by the appointment of Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach. The 30-year-old has a 19-6 record this season and says she has found her "love" for the sport again after injury derailed last season.

Simona Halep with coach Patrick Mouratoglou

Image credit: Getty Images

Andreescu, who won the US Open in 2019, is back on tour after a break at the start of the season and was playing well in Rome before losing to Swiatek in the quarter-finals. She managed to push Swiatek to a tie-break in the opening set and the world No. 1 said afterwards she was a “pretty tricky” opponent.
Andreescu could face Belinda Bencic in round two and then fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the third round.

Thiem, Wawrinka return

In a world without Nadal or Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka would likely both be multiple French Open champions.
Wawrinka won once in 2015 and made the final in 2017 while Thiem is a two-time runner-up and two-time beaten semi-finalist. Neither are expected to contend this year, but it will be pleasing to see them both back in the draw after long injury lay-offs.
Wawrinka, 37, recently returned after a year out with a foot issues and showed some encouraging signs at the Italian Open as he won two matches before losing to Djokovic. Thiem is playing again after suffering a wrist injury last summer and has found it tough going, only winning one set in six matches.
Thiem, 28, has time on his side, though, and has preached patience. “It’s a work in the process,” he said after losing to Marco Cecchinato at the Geneva Open.
“Of course, yesterday's defeat hurt. But I won’t let that stop me. I will keep working on myself and work towards my goals. What I can pass on to everyone. The process is not easy, but it will be worth taking the time to do so!”

Who could spring a surprise?

The favourites seem pretty set on the men’s side and it would be a shock if any of the top four or five lost before the quarter-finals. However, could Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev or Jannik Sinner step forward and spring a surprise? All have had mixed results over the clay season but could cause an upset on their day.
On the women’s side things have been far more unpredictable in the past, but might one of the five Americans in the top 30 make a mark?
Amanda Anisimova is perhaps the most intriguing of the quintet – made up also of Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins, Coco Gauff, Madison Keys – as she has enjoyed a good clay season, making the semi-finals in Charleston and quarters in Madrid and Rome. The 20-year-old also made the semi-finals of the French Open in 2019 and has a 10-3 record on clay since April.
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