Sunday, March 19, 2023 - Elena Rybakina plays against Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA Final of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
It was just over two months ago that Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina stormed to their maiden BNP Paribas Open titles, energizing the crowds of Indian Wells over the course of a dream two weeks in Tennis Paradise.
Their Indian Wells triumphs gave a boost to the two young stars as both players have since gone on to win Masters 1000 titles on the heels of their incredible runs in Tennis Paradise.
The world’s best have now taken to the esteemed clay courts of Roland Garros for the 2023 French Open, with Alcaraz and Rybakina leading the charge as two of the main names to watch in Paris. Keep reading for our key storylines as the thrilling 2023 tennis season continues to take shape.
Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic. It’s a matchup the entire tennis universe has been waiting to see.
The crown jewel of the ATP’s New Era talent versus one of the greatest to ever don a tennis court. The two stars have only met once before, with Alcaraz claiming the lone meeting on clay at the 2022 Madrid Open.
Both have battled injuries to start 2023, but with the Roland Garros draw starting to take shape, the No. 1 seed Alcaraz and No. 3 seed Djokovic are on a semifinal collision course in Paris. The 2023 BNP Paribas Open champion Alcaraz has looked virtually unstoppable since rolling to the title in Tennis Paradise, and a semifinal showdown against the 5x Indian Wells champion Djokovic would surely represent his toughest test of the season.
It is far from certain that both will advance to the semifinals as upsets have already proven to be rampant in Paris. 2023 BNP Paribas Open finalist Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the tournament in the first round as the No. 2 overall seed, and a number of hungry underdogs will certainly be hoping to spoil an Alcaraz vs. Djokovic showdown.
However, if the draw holds firm, the two former Tennis Paradise champions will bet set for a blockbuster semifinal matchup at Roland Garros that fans have been eagerly awaiting.
Rybakina captured her biggest title of the year so far in Tennis Paradise this March, putting together back-to-back masterclass performances to beat Swiatek in the semifinal and then Sabalenka in a thrilling championship match. Since Indian Wells, both Rybakina (Rome) and Sabalenka (Madrid) have captured Masters 1000 titles, yet Swiatek is the player who still rides into Paris as the No. 1 seed and reigning French Open champion.
While it’s still relatively early on into the season, the consistent success of these three players has created a clear top tier between Swiatek/Sabalenka/Rybakina and the rest of the WTA field. The three stars, all 25-years-old or under, have become mainstays deep in the draw of all big tournaments and represent the clear standard of talent currently on tour.
The last three Grand Slams have each gone to one of the new “Big Three,” so don’t be surprised if one of them is ultimately the last one standing at Roland Garros.