The 2023 French Open is the next major tournament of the year in professional tennis. In many ways, it will be the 2023 major with the heaviest favorite, but also the potential to significantly change the trajectory of the tennis season. We’ll explain below.
French Open Favorites
The overwhelming favorite for the 2023 French Open women’s tournament is Iga Swiatek, not only because she won the tournament last year and is generally regarded as the best clay-court women’s tennis player in the world, but also because she showed this past week at the Qatar Open that she hasn’t lost her winning edge.
When Swiatek lost to Elena Rybakina at the Australian Open, many people in the global tennis community wondered if the No. 1 player in the world had lost her edge, and if she was going to go into a deep, prolonged slump. Maybe Swiatek was going to be flat and uninspired this year. Maybe after her dominant 2022 season, in which she won both the French Open and the U.S. Open, Swiatek would have a lull in 2023 simply because the rest of the WTA Tour would be a lot more motivated than her. Maybe this was going to be a much more difficult year than many people expected.
In Doha, Swiatek silenced – or at least reduced – those kinds of doubts and questions by winning the tournament and beating Jessica Pegula in the final. Swiatek reannounced herself as the best player in the world and the woman to beat in Paris.
Other favorites include Rybakina, the runner-up at the Australian Open who is clearly a top-five-level player right now but isn’t ranked in the top five because she didn’t get ranking points for winning Wimbledon last year.
Aryna Sabalenka isn’t a top-tier clay-court player but after winning the Australian Open, she could become a newly confident player in Paris. She might maintain momentum throughout the 2023 season. Maybe she can establish herself as the main challenger to Swiatek at numerous Tour events. Her defense, composure, and consistency have all improved markedly in recent months. That was especially visible when she won her first major title Down Under.
French Open Sleepers
The sleepers for this tournament are part of a very interesting discussion. Do we call Jessica Pegula a “sleeper” even though she is a top-five player in the world? She has never made a major tournament semifinal, so when viewed through that lens, maybe she is more of a dark horse than a top contender. She lost to Swiatek in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros last year.
Maybe a better “true” sleeper is Veronika Kudermetova, whose career-high ranking is No. 9 and who is currently No. 11. She has made only one major quarterfinal, but it was in Paris last year. She would not be found in anyone’s list of top-three or top-five favorites. However, a lot of people who follow tennis would not be shocked if she did make a deep run. She might be worth throwing a few betting units on.
One other sleeper candidate is Donna Vekic. While she is still just 26 years old, it feels as though she has been on tour for 15 years. She tumbled out of the top 100 in 2021 and had surgery in 2022. She has been off everyone’s radar screen for a long while. However, she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals this past January. She is physically and mentally fresh and could be able to turn that advantage into a surprising run in France.