2024 French Open Men’s Seed Report: Predictions for a Wide-Open Field

Rafael Nadal faces a tough draw, while Novak Djokovic looks to get back on track at Roland Garros.
Novak Djokovic will look to defend his 2023 French Open title at this year's tournament.
Novak Djokovic will look to defend his 2023 French Open title at this year's tournament. / Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s French Open marks the 20th anniversary of 2004 Roland Garros, the strangest major of this century. You will (or perhaps, will not) recall that, in an all-Argentina final, little-known Gastón Gaudio, down 0–2 sets, rode a spirited crowd and rallied to defeat Guillermo Coria. Neither player was much heard from again. The following year, a muscular Spanish teenager entered the draw for the first time. He won the title. And thirteen thereafter, becoming one-third of a triptych of greatness. The Big Three gave the sport so much. They did, however, take away the element of unpredictability.

No more.

The aforementioned champion—Rafael Nadal, of course—may well be playing in the final major of his glorious career. An even more successful contemporary, 24-major winner and 37-year-old Novak Djokovic, the defending Roland Garros champ, has not been much of a factor in 2024. Roger Federer is long retired. Even their top successors are uncertain as Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev—majors winners, all—are in various states of physical compromise.

The good news: they don’t cancel events on account of uncertainty. Someone will win the 2024 French Open, emphasis on “open.” And the wide-open field must fire a good two-dozen contenders with real confidence. There is always a chance that either Nadal or Djokovic will rediscover their form, keep the old man at bay and we will have a familiar winner. More likely: We celebrate a 20th anniversary with a less well-known player channeling his inner Gaudio and winning a first (and perhaps last) major.

The top 16

1. Novak Djokovic

The player who won three of the four majors in 2023 and looked to be thwarting Father Time as if he were a rec league opponent … is suddenly looking his age (37 as of last week). He has zero titles this year and endured regular defeats by players outside the top 20. If the defending champ successfully defended and won his fourth title in Paris, it would not be a surprise. But it’s hard to see that happening. All respect to Djokovic’s body of work and the 20 years of data points, but objectively, you wonder if his heart, head and spine are fully in this.

2. Jannik Sinner

In a vacuum, the winner of the previous major—and breakout star of the last six months—is a serious contender if not the outright favorite. But to use the men’s draw cut-and-paste: the [hip] injury brings a shroud of questions.

3. Carlos Alcaraz

The cut-and-paste: health is the key factor. At full strength, Alcaraz is an undeniable contender, if not the favorite. Note his play in the 2023 de facto final against Djokovic, before cramps set in. His arm injury—and consequent/subsequent lack of match play—is a cause for concern. But given the relative health of everyone else, it’s not looking so bad.

Alcaraz will look to follow up his Indian Wells title with a strong showing in Paris.
Alcaraz will look to follow up his Indian Wells title with a strong showing in Paris. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

4. Alexander Zverev

The headline: Zverev starts against Nadal, a final quality match … and one he should win. It would be peak tennis irony/awkwardness if he won his first major at the same time as his legal matter around domestic violence allegations strides into public view. (The appeal for the penalty order he was served for an alleged act of domestic violence against the mother of his child? It begins mid-tournament. He will not show up in person. And, if form holds, he will deny that this unpleasantness will have any bearing on his tennis, much less that the claim has legitimacy.)

As good a pick as any, especially given Zverev’s Rome title last week and clay-court prowess–who can forget his going blow-for-blow with Nadal in 2022 before a gruesome ankle injury?

5. Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev always provides good theater, especially with dirt underfoot. He is forever downplaying his prospects on clay, then acquits himself just fine. (How do you say “sandbag” in Russian?) We’ll see if his leg injury is a concern.

6. Andrey Rublev

After Djokovic, Rublev has won more titles than any player since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next clause inevitably: but he has never gone beyond the quarters of a major. Big chance here. Can he keep it together? His fiercest enemy often seems to be his self-directed temper. It’s been a strange year (and it’s only May) for Rublev, with a mix of bad behavior, a losing streak and a Masters 1000 title in Madrid.

7. Casper Ruud

Two players have reached three major finals over the past two years. Djokovic is one. Ruud is the other. The view here is that he is a talent maximizer, not a guy who has come close to winning a major and failed. (Full respect, but perhaps six matches in one major is his max?) He seems to have overcome a back issue, and his draw isn’t a black diamond.

8. Hubert Hurkacz

Nearing that Rublevian phase—lovely guy; episodically terrific player; but still unclear if he has the stuff of a major winner. Especially on clay which requires still more fortitude. He beat Nadal, breezily, in Rome. But fell two rounds later to Tommy Paul, in a who-wants-it-more match. A metaphor for his career perhaps …

9. Stefanos Tsitsipas 

A lot of drama (and heartbreak?) here, which can galvanize some players and distract others. Single and ready to mingle win his first major, on his preferred surface, at an event where he came within a set of winning in 2021? Perhaps not. But he won a much-needed event in Monte Carlo and will always be dangerous.

Tsitsipas advanced to the French Open final in 2021.
Tsitsipas advanced to the French Open final in 2021. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

10. Grigor Dimitrov

 A fine year overall for the Bulgarian veteran (now 33? Can that be right?), but his results tail a bit on clay. Dimitrov faltered 7–6 in the fifth, the last time he played a best-of-five match. On the right day, his easy-on-the-eyes game can match with anyone’s. On the wrong day, he is vulnerable.

11. Alex de Minaur

De Minaur is always dangerous and always up for a battle (a prerequisite when one lacks a kill shot). His clay results have sagged a bit—and there were the occasions of playing Nadal twice consecutively in Spain—but he remains the proverbial “player you hate to see in your draw.”

12. Taylor Fritz

Self-described “Clay-lor,” Fritz is a fine player on clay. He is still looking for that real major breakthrough. Fritz’s loss to Alex Michelsen—he struggles against young Americans—this week causes some concern. But scan his draw, and you wonder, Why not now?

13. Holger Rune

Something is—if not rotten—amiss in the state of Denmark. The talent is undeniable. And bear in mind he was born the same month as Alcaraz, so no crisis. But a lot of drama and personnel churn here. And, more concerning, he is—altogether now—a health question.

14. Tommy Paul

As a wise man recently put it: “Looks like the early year @TommyPaul1 train is back on track after it was interrupted by the ankle. Looking good TP. Roll.” Paul is a former Roland Garros junior champ and, more relevantly, is coming off a semifinal run in Rome.

15. Ben Shelton

The good news? He won Houston! He’s a top-15 player! He remains left-handed! The less good news: Shelton’s European clay run, including a loss this week in Geneva. More happily: Wimbledon begins in five weeks.

16. Nicolás Jarry

Here’s a horse to circle in your racing form. The Chilean is coming off a run to the Rome final. And Jarry’s gifts—and size—are coalescing. Big sleeper energy here, sports fans.

Jarry's best French Open showing came in 2023 when he advanced to the fourth round.
Jarry's best French Open showing came in 2023 when he advanced to the fourth round. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Select seeds 17-32

17. Ugo Humbert

Humbert is the highest ranked French player. Now almost 26, he remains a tough player to read and when he is good, he is very good. When he is off, he can be awful.

19. Alexander Bublik

Your guess is as good as anyone’s, Bublik’s included.

21. Félix Auger-Aliassime

Who is old enough to remember the time Auger-Aliassime took two sets off Nadal at Roland Garros while being coached by Nadal’s uncle? A lot has changed since 2022, little for the better. Injuries, a crisis of confidence, an unmistakable sense of wait-what-is-happening-to-my-once-ascending-career? Ranked outside the top 30 at the time, Auger-Aliassime got some altitude in Madrid, reaching the final.

22. Adrian Mannarino

Mannarino’s momentum has slowed a bit, but shout out to a guy playing some of the best ball of his career at almost 36 years old.

23. Francisco Cerundolo

South Carolina’s loss (who knew, right?) is tennis’s gain. Cerundolo is a Week 2 player in 2024.

24. Alejandro Tabilo

They keep coming, these Chileans. Tabilo is a Canadian-born grinder who would have been a dark horse, even before beating Djokovic in Rome.

25. Francis Tiafoe

A slump has grown legs and a tail. Tiafoe has been sub.-500 since the U.S. Open, but dangerous nonetheless.

28. Tomás Martín Etcheverry

The big, slugging Argentine was a revelation at the 2023 French Open.

29. Arthur Fils

Fils is having a bit of a Gallic pfft of a year so far (13–13). But he is coming off a small challenger title and it will be interesting to see how he handles the weight at a home major.

Fils will be a crowd favorite in Paris as one of the top-seeded French players.
Fils will be a crowd favorite in Paris as one of the top-seeded French players. / Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Dark horse pasture

Rafael Nadal: The start against Zverev is the consequence of not seeding a 14-time champion. The assumption is that this is Nadal’s Roland Garros omega … and man, is there a wide delta. Given the state of his body, he could lose early. Given the state of his body of work—14 titles here, which remains a great tennis punchline—he could win the whole thing. Enjoy the spectacle.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina: He is seldom boring …

Gael Monfils: Enjoy the show at Monfils’s home major and hope it is not for the last time.

Zhizhen Zhang: Keep an eye out, as Zhang is coming off a Rome quarterfinal run.

Jan-Lennard Struff: A pro’s pro who can play on clay.

Emil Ruusuvuori: The Finnish 25-year-old is too good to be ranked this modestly.

Stan Wawrinka: He is barely in the top 100, but you know the rules. All former champions—even at age 38, out of the top 50—merit mention. His first opponent is …

Andy Murray: Will he win? No. Will he reach the final, equaling his best showing? No. Is he likely to make it out of Week 1? No. But all the respect for a legend simply trying to wring everything he can from his career.

Richard Gasquet:  Acknowledging another local favorite.

First-round matches to watch

Nadal v. Zverev: Enough said.
Djokovic v. Herbert: Never ideal to start against an opponent from the home country.
Murray v. Wawrinka: A battle of three-time major champs.
Gasquet v. Ćorić: Two accomplished vets face off.
Jarry v. Moutet: Come for the atmosphere and antics … stay for the tennis.
Monfils v. Seyboth Wild: Vooch times await.

All eyes will be on Nadal's first-round match against Zverev.
All eyes will be on Nadal's first-round match against Zverev. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First-round upset

Coria d. Fritz or Gaston d. Shelton


Zverev d. Djokovic
Alcaraz d. Jarry


Zverev d. Alcaraz

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Jon Wertheim


Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer L. Jon Wertheim is one of the most accomplished sports journalists in America.