Tennis legend John McEnroe gives his verdict to the All Court Tennis Club on the big talking points so far at this year’s French Open; starting with a verdict on 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
What are your thoughts on Djokovic’s French Open chances?
Never dismiss one of the all-time greats. Djokovic has a chance at the French Open, of course he does. He’s on a quest to be the best ever and win the most majors. Right now, it looks like he’s the only big guy left which gives him a great chance at breaking more records. He’s tied with Rafa (Nadal on 22 Grand Slam titles.) He’s had a tough year-and-a-half in a lot of ways but he’s also done some incredible things.
Does Djokovic get the respect from tennis fans he is due?
I don’t think so. I think he’s been fantastic, but there is this other issue. He’s taken a firm stance on vaccination, which many have not agreed with and even at times where it has cost him. He’s been the villain more often recently, but he does deserve the respect. The guy has won 22 Grand Slams, for God’s sakes! Clearly, we are approaching the end of an era in tennis. We have had 15 years with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, which have been unbelievable, but all good things must come to an end. Djokovic is 36 and seems to be in incredible shape. His body still seems to be doing what he wants it to. But we all know at some point soon, that’s going to change. It’s just a question of how long you can keep going against the young guys who are coming through.
So, who is the favourite to win the French Open?
I would say that it would be a tie between Carlos Alcaraz and Djokovic. If you asked me to pick one, I would say Alcaraz has a slightly better chance, but never write off Djokovic.
How impressed are you by Alcaraz?
He’s just such a breath of fresh air, and he’s so electric. He’s got such a great personality. People want to see him win. I mean, it’s a great feeling when everyone wants you to win, but then you have to back it up. Alcaraz has a lot of pressure on him in Paris. He’s 20 years old and everyone says he’s going to win the French Open. He seems like such a great ambassador for our sport so you can see why everyone is rooting for him. That also adds to the pressure, but he seems to like it.
Will we see Rafael Nadal back on a tennis court after he pulled out of Roland Garros?
I guess we don’t know. I would never say he can’t win Roland Garros again. When a guy has won a tournament 14 times, he always has a chance to come back. When he plays again, he might be 38 years old and that’s an issue for someone with a lot of injury problems.
READ MORE: Chris Evert’s French Open predictions
Who are your dark horses for this French Open?
Jannik Sinner is one to watch and I think we can expect more from Alexander Zverev.. You go back to last year and Zverev looked like he was had a real great shot of beating Nadal in Paris. He looked like he believed he could win that. Obviously, what happened with his injury was very unfortunate and set him back and in a big way. I don’t think he’s 100% with his ankle still and that’s natural, but he is getting back. I do think he’s still capable of going far. He’s always prided himself on fitness so that in best-of-five-set matches, he’s a lot more difficult to beat. He may be one of the eight guys in the mix, I probably put him on the list more than I put other guys that are more highly ranked than him right now.
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