Tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou has declared that there will be "huge stakes" for Novak Djokovic at the upcoming 2022 French Open. The Frenchman believes that victory at Roland Garros would put the Serb in a strong position to overtake Rafael Nadal in the "GOAT race".
Along with Djokovic, Mouratoglou identified Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas as contenders for the French Open men's singles title. The 51-year-old currently coaches 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and two-time Major winner Simona Halep.
The World No. 1 is the defending champion at the French Open, having come back from two sets to love down to beat Tsitsipas in last year's final. He also defeated Nadal in an epic four-set semifinal in Paris en route to becoming the first man in the Open Era to complete a Double Career Grand Slam.
After securing his 19th Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros, the 34-year-old won the 2021 Wimbledon Championships to tie Nadal and Roger Federer for a men's record of 20 Major titles. Nadal reclaimed the lead in January by winning his 21st Grand Slam title against Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Mouratoglou discussed the four players widely considered the four main challengers for the 2022 French Open crown. The Frenchman started with World No. 6 Alcaraz and World No. 4 Tsitsipas. and highlighted each of their achievements this claycourt season.
"One: Carlos Alcaraz.'Carlitos' is probably the most solid player at the moment," Mouratoglou said. "He won Barcelona, he won Madrid, as well as Miami a few weeks earlier. In Madrid, he became the first player to defeat both Nadal and Djokovic in the same claycourt event. Two: Stefanos Tsitsipas. Finalist last year in Roland Garros, Tsitsipas also had a good claycourt preparation for Roland Garros. He defended his title in Monte-Carlo and racked up big wins over the last month."
Mouratgolou then turned his attention to Djokovic and Nadal and assessed how significant winning the event could be for both players.
"Three: Novak Djokovic. There will be huge stakes for Djokovic at Roland Garros this year," the Frenchman continued. "He dominated across several Grand Slam tournaments last year, and this will be his first Major in 2022. If he wins, he will tie Rafa in the GOAT race with 21 and be in great position to take the lead."
"Four: Rafael Nadal. He's known as the 'King of Clay' and winning this year's Roland Garros would mean taking a two-title lead on Roger [Federer] and Novak in the GOAT race," Mouratoglou added. "But, he didn't have a great claycourt [season] in preparation for the French and didn't look in too good physical shape against Shapovalov in Rome."
Novak Djokovic extends Masters 1000 title record with Italian Open victory
Novak Djokovic defeated Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6(5) in the final of the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday to claim his first title of the season. It was his sixth triumph at the historic tournament and a record-extending 38th crown at ATP Masters 1000 level - putting him two ahead of great rival Rafael Nadal.
The Serb won the title without dropping a set to improve his 2022 season record to 12-4. The 34-year-old's semifinal victory over Casper Ruud made him the fifth man to reach 1000 match wins in the Open Era on the ATP tour.
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