Four Belgians compete in French Open
The 122nd edition of the French Open, the second grand slam tournament of the season, kicks off Monday at Roland Garros in Paris. Four Belgians - one man and three women - are set to compete in the main draw.
32-year-old David Goffin (ranked 113) is the only Belgian man in the main draw of the men's tournament. He will play his first-round match on Thursday against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, ranked 13. Goffin has already played the 26-year-old Hurkacz twice. Last year, they also met in the third round of Roland Garros, with Hurkacz winning 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. In 2022, Goffin beat Hurkacz 7-6, 7-6 in Rome.
Three Belgian women
On the women's side, Poland's Iga Swiatek will defend her title in Paris. The world number 1 will play her opening match against Spain's Cristina Bucsa, ranked 67. There are three Belgians in the main draw. Elise Mertens (ranked 28) will start the tournament against a qualifier and, if victorious, will meet American Caty McNally (ranked 54) or Romanian Ana Bogdan (ranked 60) in the second round. Mertens reached the fourth round last year, as she did in 2018.
Compatriot Ysaline Bonaventure (ranked 81) meets Russian Anna Blinkova (66), against whom she has lost twice in three previous matches. Next up may be France's Caroline Garcia (ranked 5). Ukranian-Belgian Maryna Zanevska (88) is set to make her first appearance at Roland Garros against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva (61).
No Federer or Nadal
This year is the first French Open since 1998 without Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Federer retired last autumn, while Nadal annouced his withdrawl from the competition a week ago due to a muscle injury. With 14 wins, the Spaniard is the record holder in Paris. He won the tournament last year after beating Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final. This is the first time since his winning debut in 2005 that Nadal will not play in Paris.
This gives Serbian Novak Djokovic a prime opportunity to become the first player to win 23 Grand Slam titles. To do so, the current world number three will have to get past Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, ranked 1. The two may meet in the semi-finals.
Belgium's Elise Mertens © OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP