What's at stake at Roland-Garros 2023?

Plenty of stars are chasing historic and personal accomplishments over the next fortnight in Paris

Novak Djokovic, Rome 2023, third round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The road to Roland-Garros 2023 is over and it's time for the world's best to shine on the terre battue. 

As ever in Paris, there are plenty of significant plot lines and potentially history-making feats to look out for.

A record 23rd for Djokovic?

With Rafael Nadal unfortunately sidelined with a psoas injury, Novak Djokovic has a chance to eclipse his perennial rival.

Nadal and Djokovic currently share the men's all-time Grand Slam record of 22 majors.

Could the Serbian seize his opportunity and roar to a third Roland-Garros crown? Increasing his tally to 23 would tie Djokovic with another legendary figure, Serena Williams.

"I would like more than my biggest rival, but look, when that moment arrives, when I have to draw the line and look back on the history of my career and what I have achieved, even if I stop here and he wins another 10 Slams, I have to be overall satisfied," Djokovic told thenationalnews.com in February when asked if he'd be satisfied if he ended his career on level terms with Nadal.

“Maybe there’s going to be a little part of me that’s going to be regretting that I haven’t had more than him, but at the end of the day, how much is enough? You know what I mean?

"Of course you need to have the competitive mind, you need to have this fierceness, the mental approach of a wolf in a way, hungry for more and more, because that drives you, at least in my case.

“But at the same time, there’s also time to balance and say, 'Okay, wow, a lot was achieved,' you have to be proud, you have to be thankful and grateful for all these things, be present and be humble about it."

Moving onto three Roland-Garros triumphs would land the 36-year-old alongside the legendary quartet of Ivan Lendl, Rene Lacoste , Mats Wilander and Gustavo Kuerten in the Parisian tournament's roll of honour.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2021 trophy shoot© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

A hat-trick for Iga?

Just like Djokovic, reigning champion Iga Swiatek is pursuing a third Roland-Garros crown.

The Pole lifted the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen back in 2020 and surrendered just one set en route to the trophy last year on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

There are question marks surrounding the 21-year-old, who was forced to retire with a thigh injury in a three-set battle against Elena Rybakina in Rome last week.

Three Roland-Garros titles would place Swiatek in an elite group, joining Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling on that impressive tally.

Iga Swiatek / Trophée Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Can Sabalenka go back-to-back?

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has never been better placed to vie for supremacy in Paris.

The 25-year-old has never reached the second week at Roland-Garros in five previous attempts, halted in the third round from 2020-22.

Her Melbourne exploits earlier this season highlight Sabalenka is an even stronger force to be reckoned with in 2023. The world No.2 arrives in Paris on the back of a title run in Madrid and a runner-up showing in Stuttgart, further enhancing her clay-court credentials.

Should she take home a second successive Grand Slam, Sabalenka would be the first woman to win back-to-back majors since Naomi Osaka clinched the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

Aryna Sabalenka, Roland-Garros 2023, practice© Philippe Montigny/FFT

On top of that, Sabalenka could, mathematically, wrestle away the No.1 ranking from Swiatek. The world No.2 is currently on 7541 ranking points (defending only 130 points from Paris last year), whereas the defending champion sits at the summit with 8940, and is defending the maximum 2000 points this upcoming fortnight.

“It’s my first priority, I would say; I really want it,” Sabalenka said of the No.1 ranking in an interview with Arab News a few months ago.

Aryna Sabalenka / Finale Open d'Australie 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Can Carlitos emulate his coach?

Two decades ago, Juan Carlos Ferrero stormed to the Roland-Garros title, defeating Martin Verkerk in the final in straight sets. The Spaniard could mark that special anniversary with another success, this time as a coach to world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz.

Seeded No.1 at a Grand Slam for the first time, Alcaraz will be looking to add a second major to his tally, having landed his first at the US Open last summer.

The 20-year-old has been exceptional on clay this year, putting together a 20-2 win-loss record on the red dirt, including title runs in Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Madrid.

Will is be a double celebration for Team Alcaraz this year in Paris?

Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Roland Garros 2022, practice May 20© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

It's also a special year for those flying the French tricolour flag.

Forty years ago, the larger than life Yannick Noah was crowned Roland-Garros champion. The Frenchman was the last home charge to pose alongside the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

Ugo Humbert, up 12 spots from recent Challenger Tour success to world No.38, leads the blue, white and red contingent this fortnight. The likes of Adrian Mannarino and Richard Gasquet are also capable of a deep run.

Could some French flair toast 1983 in style?

Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah, Roland-Garros 1983FFT

Another reshuffle for the ATP's top three?

A mere 860 points separate a top-ranked Alcaraz from a third-ranked Djokovic at the summit of the men's standings, with Daniil Medvedev wedged in between thanks to his triumph in Rome last Sunday.

Alcaraz and Djokovic reached the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros 12 months ago, while Medvedev made the fourth round. With plenty of opportunity to gain ranking points this upcoming fortnight, the top three spots could switch hands again, raising the stakes on Paris' terre battue.

Daniil Medvedev, Rome 2023, final©Ray Giubilo/FFT

Will we witness a first-time Slam champ?

Casper Ruud and Coco Gauff came close last June, leaving Roland-Garros as gallant runners-up. Their search for a maiden Grand Slam title continues and clay is a surface on which they tend to come alive.

Stefanos Tsitispas has featured in the final here (in 2021), whilst Holger Rune, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner represent supreme talent eager for first-time major success.

Ons Jabeur, a Wimbledon and US Open finalist in 2022, has all the craft and creativity to taste Grand Slam glory on the clay. Jessica Pegula and Caroline Garcia are also very much in the hunt.

Coco Gauff, Roland-Garros 2023, practice© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT