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Top Heavy: Alcaraz, Djokovic in Same Half of RG Draw

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, May 25, 2023

King of clay Rafa Nadal famously said suffering is a prerequisite for Roland Garros success.

In Nadal's absence from Paris, Novak Djokovic is looking at a hard road to history.

More: Swiatek, Sabalenka Face Tough Tests in RG Draw

Launching his quest for a men's record 23rd Grand Slam championship in Paris, Djokovic faces a potentially painful path to a seventh Paris final.

The 2023 Roland Garros draw was conducted in Paris today and pits World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and Djokovic in the same top half of a loaded draw.

That means if seeds hold true to form, Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic would have to face US Open champion Alcaraz in the semifinals.

The top half of the field includes the only two former French Open men's champions in the field—Djokovic and 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka—as well as 2021 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, reigning Monte-Carlo champion Andrey Rublev, Lorenzo Musetti, who owns a clay-court win over Djokovic this season, Cameron Norrie, who owns a clay-court finals win over Alcaraz, Karen Khachanov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

It was a bittersweet draw day as organizers, media and fans faced a draw without 14-time champion Nadal, who has played Paris every year since his 2005 debut when he defeated Argentinean left-hander Mariano Puerta to capture his maiden major.

"[Nadal's withdrawal] was greeted with sadness. I thought a lot about him in the first place, we know that his story is intimately linked to this tournament," tournament director Amelie Mauresmo told the media in Paris after the draw. "It was sad, but today it is [the draw] so we must also say that it will open opportunities to other players.

"Personally I think that Carlos Alcaraz arrives very prepared. Novak Djokovic, even if he hasn't won many matches lately, is still dangerous, especially in Grand Slams."

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev anchors the bottom half of the draw.

Fresh off his run to his first career clay-court crown in Rome, Medvedev should be satisfied with his draw.

The 2021 US Open champion opens with a qualifier with his first potential seeded opponent No. 27-seeded Yoshihito Nishioka.

Rome runner-up Holger Rune, who has reached three finals in four clay-court tournaments this season, 2022 Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, No. 8-seeded Jannik Sinner, Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev, Cincinnati champion Borna Coric, No. 9-seeded Taylor Fritz and Francisco Cerundolo are among the threats in the bottom half of the draw.

Photo credit: Getty