With the absence of 14-time champion Rafael Nadal, Alcaraz is tipped to carry the hopes of Spain in this prestigious Grand Slam event. The young phenom is already seen as the favorite for the tournament, ahead of the likes of Novak Djokovic and other contenders.
However, with Nadal's withdrawal, the pressure increases exponentially, especially because Alcaraz remains the only Spaniard with a real shot on the title in the draw. Alcaraz's position as the likely successor to Nadal's clay court dominance is no surprise.
The 20-year-old has already made an impressive mark in the tennis world. He is the first player born in the 2000s to win an ATP Masters 1000 title and has already bagged multiple Masters 1000 titles. Notably, he won the 2022 Miami Open, the 2022 Madrid Open, the 2023 Indian Wells Masters, and the 2023 Madrid Open.
But he already proved that he can perform at tournaments of every category. Alcaraz claimed his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2022, defeating Casper Ruud in a thrilling four-set match. Altogether, Alcaraz has won 10 singles titles, including victories at the Rio Open, the Barcelona Open, and the Argentina Open.
Eurosport pundit and former Roland Garros finalist Alex Corretja believes Alcaraz will rise to the occasion. Corretja is convinced that Alcaraz will draw inspiration from the opportunity to succeed in Nadal's stead, despite the attention and pressure that will inevitably come with being the favorite and potentially the next Spanish winner at Roland Garros.
"It has a massive impact. Whatever tournament you enter, if Nadal is not there then there is a hole in the draw where you are missing someone. But if it's Roland-Garros, it's not a hole, it's a whole world missing there! It is going to start making other players believe that they can win Roland Garros."
Corretja also explains that while Nadal's withdrawal certainly brings a sense of relief to the players, they will be also sad about his absence. As Alcaraz often puts it, he wants to challenge the best when they are at their best, and that won't happen in Paris.
"It does not necessarily need to be more pressure for the guys that feel they can win Roland Garros. I think they will feel sad for Rafa, sad for tennis, but relief for themselves, knowing that the biggest guy on earth on clay, in the history of tennis, is not going to be there."
There's also a belief that Alcaraz's defeat in Rome might work to his advantage in Paris. The loss, while disappointing, has provided him with more time to prepare for the Roland Garros. Furthermore, it could temper some expectations, allowing him to enter the tournament fresh and ready to fire.
"It will definitely have an impact on Alcaraz, for sure. All eyes will be on him and on Novak and all the other potential favourites but being Spanish and knowing that Rafa is not going to be there, all the attention is going to be on him on the men's side."
As former world no. 2 Alex Corretja rightly put it, there's an opportunity for the rest of the field to step up with Nadal not participating. But there's no doubt that all eyes will be on Alcaraz as he embarks on his Roland Garros journey, starting on Sunday, May 28th, 2023.
"Knowing Alcaraz, he will be okay to deal with that, I'm sure. He loves that, which is very amazing and very impressive, but he will definitely need to cope with all the attention and everyone asking him about being the favourite and the next Spanish winner, etc."