Djokovic and Alcaraz placed in same half of French Open 2023 draw

Serbian star could face world No 1 in semi-finals at Roland Garros

Serbia's Novak Djokovic could face world number one Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals of the French Open after both players were placed in the same half of the draw. AFP
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Novak Djokovic could face world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals of the French Open after both players were placed in the same half of the draw on Thursday.

Djokovic is chasing a record 23rd men's Grand Slam title in the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal, who will miss the tournament at Roland Garros for the first time since his 2005 title-winning debut.

The third-seeded Djokovic, Roland Garros champion in 2016 and 2021, meets 114th-ranked Aleksandar Kovacevic of the US in the first round in Paris - the first French Open since 1998 without Nadal or the now retired Roger Federer.

The 24-year-old Kovacevic is making his Grand Slam main draw debut.

Djokovic, who turned 36 on Monday, has been bothered by a recurrence of a right elbow injury which has disrupted his clay-court season.

He failed to go beyond the last eight at any of the three events he played on clay this spring, losing his top spot to Alcaraz.

Djokovic has also fallen behind Daniil Medvedev in the rankings after the Russian succeeded him as Italian Open champion last weekend.

US Open champion Alcaraz and Medvedev both start their Roland Garros campaigns against a qualifier or lucky loser.

Alcaraz is also on track to play 2021 French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals.

Reigning women's champion Iga Swiatek begins her title defence against Spain's Cristina Bucsa, the world No 67 who was beaten by the Pole in the third round of this year's Australian Open.

The top-ranked Swiatek, bidding to become the first back-to-back women's champion at the French Open in 16 years, is coming off a thigh injury which forced her to retire in Rome.

She is seeded to meet 2022 runner-up Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals and could face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, last week's Italian Open winner, in the last four.

Updated: May 25, 2023, 1:49 PM