A Nadal-Djokovic final is tantalizingly close. Nadal is aiming to win his 20th Grand Slam singles title and match Roger Federer’s men’s record. Djokovic is trying to close the gap by winning his 18th.
But upsets are not out of the question. Schwartzman defeated Nadal for the first time on clay in the Italian Open last month, and the low-bouncing conditions in Paris this year give him a better chance of coping with Nadal’s whipping forehand topspin.
Tsitsipas has been in sparkling form since rallying from two sets down to win his opening-round match against Jaume Munar. On Wednesday, Tsitsipas defeated the dangerous Andrey Rublev in straight sets — 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 — just 10 days after Rublev had defeated him on clay in the final of the Hamburg Open.
Tsitsipas, 22, is one of the leaders of tennis’s next generation, marketed by the men’s tour as the “NextGen” in an attempt to build some new star power to prepare for the time when the sport’s Big Three of Federer, 39, Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, is no longer blocking everybody else’s sun.
Tsitsipas, a thoughtful Greek who makes you remember that philosophy is a Greek word, was asked on Wednesday if this French Open could be a springboard for the younger set.
“First of all, I would like to tell you that I’m not a NextGen player anymore,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m a proper adult. Second of all, for sure it’s going to come at some point. I mean, let’s face it. Yeah, the Big Three have been there for a long time. I don’t feel like it’s going to be the same in five, six years’ time.”
It was already different at the U.S. Open in New York just last month when Dominic Thiem, a 27-year-old from Austria, became the first men’s player since 2016 to win a Grand Slam singles title who was not one of the Big Three. (Federer didn’t play in the event after having a second operation this year on his right knee in June.)