Daniela Hantuchova has said that Carlos Alcaraz is the favorite to win this year’s French Open, following Spain’s victory at the Madrid Open.
The former WTA star believes organizers helped the home favorite by “trying to make the court as slow as possible” at the Masters 1000 tournament.
In an entertaining Madrid Open final on Sunday, Alcaraz defeated a lucky Jan-Lenard Struff 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
The 20-year-old won his second home title after winning the Barcelona Open for the second time last month.
The world No. 2 has a career-best 29-2 overall record in 2023, winning four titles. Three of these victories came on clay courts, this season he won 19 of 20 matches.
While Alcaraz is in amazing shape, the legendary duo Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both faced injury issues ahead of Roland Garros..
Nadal, a 14-time French Open champion, has been sidelined since suffering a hip injury at the Australian Open in January. The 36-year-old Spaniard withdrew from the upcoming Italian Open after missing out on Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
Two-time Roland Garros winner Djokovic struggled at events in Monte Carlo and Banja Luka and missed the Madrid Open with an elbow injury. The world No. 1 is set to return to action this week in Rome, where he is the reigning champion.
Speaking on Prime Video coverage after the Madrid Open final, Hantuchova expressed her belief that Alcaraz will be the player to win the French Open.
“Nothing really has to happen, even if we lose the first round (in Rome) it won’t happen. But maybe he’s still the very, very clear favorite for me before Roland Garros,” Hantuchova said.
“Carlos has a lot more matches under his belt and for Carlos to hit the court until he gets to Paris, everything is already in preparation for Roland Garros.”
Before the final match, the Slovakian Manolo Santana’s frequent watering of the court identified Alcaraz as an attempt to help him with a strophe on the big serve.
“One thing I would like to point out is the people who have flooded the court twice since we spoke,” Hantuchova said. “So I feel like they’re trying to delay the court as soon as possible so that it’s easier for Carlos to return that service.
“But that doesn’t happen, this week for the first time when I saw this, at least this side was covered with water twice,” added the former world number 5.
“Especially on clay, that’s what we always expect when you play a Spanish player here or an Italian in Italy.”
Alcaraz is set to make his next debut at the Italian Open, starting in the men’s main draw on Wednesday, May 10.
The 2023 French Open will be held from May 28 to June 11.
Read more: ATP Rankings: Carlos Alcaraz to overtake Novak Djokovic after Italian Open.