PARIS, France, May 24 — World number two Daniil Medvedev and 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas kick off their French Open campaigns on Tuesday in a bid to take their first steps to breaking the Roland Garros noose between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
US Open champion Medvedev has traditionally struggled on clay, needing five trips to Paris before breaking his duck at Roland Garros, reaching the quarter-finals last year.
This year, the eccentric Russian played and lost his only match on the surface when he returned to action in Geneva last week after a hernia operation.
The 26-year-old takes on 103rd-ranked Argentine Facundo Bagnis, who started his year by beating former world number one Andy Murray in Melbourne.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas were drawn in the opposite half of the tournament by 13-time winner Nadal, defending champion Djokovic as well as teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.
“It’s good on one side to have them on the other side of the board. At the same time, I, even more than other tournaments, have to focus on myself,” Medvedev said.
“There are a lot of good players on clay. I play one of them first round, left handed, like to spin the ball.
Fourth-seeded Tsitsipas, who lost the 2021 final to Djokovic after leading two sets at love, has a dangerous mission against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on the Philippe Chatrier court.
The 20-year-old, ranked 66, also led Djokovic by two sets in the last 16 in 2021 before injury limited his challenge.
This year on clay, he made the quarter-finals in Marrakech and the third round in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid where he was forced to retire against world number three Alexander Zverev.
Two former women’s champions are also launching their campaign.
Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who works with Serena Williams’ trainer Patrick Mouratoglou, takes on Nastasja Schunk, a lucky 18-year-old loser from qualifying, ranked 165th in the world.
Jelena Ostapenko, shock winner of Roland Garros in 2017, faces the Italian Lucia Bronzetti.
The Spanish world number four Paula Badosa, quarter-finalist in 2021, faces the French Fiona Ferro.
Before this match on the Philippe Chatrier court, French fans may be saying goodbye to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the former world number five who will retire once his Roland-Garros campaign is over.
Unranked Tsonga lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Djokovic as the Serb won the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles.
He reached the semi-finals twice at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon and finished second to Roger Federer in the 2011 ATP Finals.
“It’s a moment that I’m sure will be full of emotion,” said the 37-year-old who faces eighth seed Casper Ruud, champion in Geneva this weekend.