"With Roger Federer gone, Rafael Nadal injured and Novak Djokovic struggling, French Open 2024 is wide open" - Jimmy Connors

Roger Federer (L), Rafael Nadal (middle), Novak Djokovic (R) and Jimmy Connors (inset)
Roger Federer (left), Rafael Nadal (middle), Novak Djokovic (R) and Jimmy Connors (inset)

With Roger Federer's retirement and uncertainty swirling around Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's form, Jimmy Connors has expressed his belief that the 2024 French Open presents a wide-open field. Connors suggested that it's a prime opportunity for younger players to step up and take over the mantle from the 'Big 3.'

Jimmy Connors and his son Brett recently delved into the odds for the French Open title on the men's side. Carlos Alcaraz leads the pack with +200 odds, trailed closely by defending champion Djokovic and World No. 2 Jannik Sinner with +300 and +400, respectively.

Alexander Zverev (+600) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (+750) round out the top-five, while Nadal occupies sixth place with +900 odds to clinch his 15th Roland Garros title. Casper Ruud, Holger Rune, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev close out the top-10.

On the latest episode of the 'Advantage Connors' podcast, Jimmy Connors weighed in on the odds, acknowledging that this year's French Open is "wide open."

With the usual favorites like Roger Federer now retired, Rafael Nadal hampered by injury concerns and Novak Djokovic "struggling" to display his best form, Connors emphasized the unpredictable nature of the claycourt Major.

"You said it about it being wide open because normally going into the French, especially on clay, before the last year or two years you had Federer, Djokovic and Nadal," he said (at 23:20).
"And you could take those three against the field and come out on top almost every year. Or just Nadal. But now, with Federer gone, Nadal injured and Djoker kind of struggling to get some match play, you’re right, it is wide open," he added.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion also suggested that this is a prime opportunity for younger talents like Alcaraz and Sinner, as well as more seasoned players like Zverev and Tsitsipas, to potentially usher in a new era of men's tennis by taking over from the 'Big 3.'

"What an opportunity for a lot of these younger guys coming up. Even guys like Zverev who are like 27/28/29 to take advantage of that and to start laying, we talk about this so much, to start laying the groundwork for their legacy. To start taking over and understanding that this is their time," he said.
"The other guys, as great as they are, as great as they were, as great as they still are, it’s time. They’re in their 30s, it’s time for us to take over. And so it’s going to be very interesting to see how that’s handled," he added.

Novak Djokovic ahead of French Open 2024: "This year is more open... But when you talk about Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal is always the biggest favourite"

Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2012 French Open final
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the 2012 French Open final

Novak Djokovic also expressed a similar sentiment to Jimmy Connors, conceding that this year's French Open is more open, with the likes of Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the running for the title.

"This year is more open. Casper Ruud is surely one of the five players who are candidates to win. You have Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas -- all the players who won a major tournament on this surface this year," Novak Djokovic told the press at the Geneva Open.

However, the Serb emphasized that Rafael Nadal would always be the favorite at the claycourt major, regardless of his current form, and ranked himself second, after the Spaniard.

"But when you talk about Roland-Garros and Nadal is there, he is always the biggest favourite for me. After everything he has done on the courts at Roland-Garros court, it's normal, respectfully to put him as the biggest favourite," Djokovic said.
"Obviously it's a little different with his level of play. But it's Roland-Garros and it's Nadal. After that, maybe me, if I feel good, if I play well. At Roland-Garros, and all the Grand Slams, I am a bit of a different player," he added.

Competing at the Geneva Open, Djokovic has advanced to the quarterfinals with a commanding 6-3, 6-3 win over Yannick Hanfmann. He will square off against Denis Shapovalov or Tallon Griekspoor for a place in the semifinals.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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