Whatever sort of storylines you prefer, the French Open has provided.
If you like powerhouses rolling toward huge late-round matchups, we're still on pace for a Carlos Alcaraz-Novak Djokovic semifinal on the men's side and an Iga Swiatek-Aryna Sabalenka final on the women's.
If you like up-and-comers with major opportunities, 20-year-old Holger Rune is now the favorite to reach the final in the bottom half of the draw.
And if you like comeback stories, then holy smokes, is this the tournament for you. Elina Svitolina had a child last October and hasn't been back on tour for two months, and she's swung her way into the quarterfinals. So has 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who missed last year's tournament with a knee injury. So, too, has 2022 semifinalist Alexander Zverev, who suffered a horrific ankle injury in this tournament last year.
Each Slam takes on its own personality, and we'll see which of these stories persist as we prepare for the later rounds. But with the quarterfinals on deck, let's rank the remaining contenders in both the men's and women's French Open.
1. Carlos Alcaraz (No. 1 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 60.0% (one set lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +120 (equivalent to 45%) and 32%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Tsitsipas-Djokovic-Ruud
It's increasingly difficult to think of the 20-year-old Alcaraz as anything other than the best player in the world when healthy. He missed nearly four months of winter tournaments with injury, but since returning to action in mid-February, the defending US Open champ has gone 34-3 with five finals appearances and four titles in seven tournaments. He hasn't dropped a set in four matches against top-10 opponents in that span. He can still take his eye off the ball at times -- he lost to qualifier Fabian Marozsan in Rome in early-May, and he dropped a 6-3 set in an otherwise easy cruise past Taro Daniel in the second round. But the bigger the opponent and occasion, the better he plays.
This is maybe the most staggering statistic of the tournament: Alcaraz has won 60% of his points in each of his first four matches. That is a level of consistency that a 20-year-old -- especially one with such epic expectations -- is not supposed to possess. He plays with the highest energy on the tour, and yet he's nearly always in control. Because of the oddity of the times, he has only played Djokovic once, and never in a best-of-five situation. Maybe, if they each reach the semis as expected, we'll find that he's not yet ready to cross that bridge. But he's crossed every other bridge available. He is unbelievable.
2. Novak Djokovic (No. 3 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 56.8% (zero sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +160 (equivalent to 38%) and 21%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Khachanov-Alcaraz-Ruud
In 2006, a 19-year-old Novak Djokovic enjoyed his first standout Slam performance, upsetting Fernando Gonzalez, Tommy Haas and Gael Monfils on his way to the French Open quarterfinals. His run ended the same way his 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2020 and 2022 French Opens would -- with a loss to Rafael Nadal.
Nadal, of course, is not around this year, still attempting to fix a nagging hip issue. And while Djokovic is still attempting to play his way into fifth gear after his own injury issues and mediocre spring performances, he's reached his 17th (!) French Open quarterfinal without dropping a set. Granted, his draw hasn't been incredibly difficult -- only one of four opponents ranked in the ATP top 80 -- and he's giving away a lot of points on his second serve. But his return has been as dominant as we expect the Djokovic return to be, and resourcefulness has led him to the net quite a bit, where he's won two-thirds of his points. The longer he goes, the more likely he is to become the full-on video-game boss we're used to. And that version of Djokovic versus this version of Alcaraz in a potential semifinal would be utterly incredible viewing.
3. Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 5 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 56.6% (one set lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +1400 (equivalent to 7%) and 15%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Alcaraz-Djokovic-Ruud
There are unfortunate draws, and there are unfortunate draws. With Alcaraz and Djokovic both in the top half of the bracket, there was a massive opportunity for anyone who landed in the bottom half. Seeded fifth, Tsitsipas, the 2021 French Open finalist, could have entered the tournament as one of the favorites to reach another final in Paris. Instead, he landed in Alcaraz's quarter. He might have to beat both Alcaraz and Djokovic just to reach the final.
The good news is, he's playing well. It's always about the return for Tsitsipas -- the serve's always there -- and heading into the French Open he had won only 35% of his return points in 2023, worst of any top-10 player. Granted, he didn't face a single top-50 opponent in his first four rounds, but he's still at 43% for the tournament, and if he could even stay in the 37-39% range when the real competitions begin, he's a candidate to pull at least one upset. Unfortunately, in two clay-court matches with Alcaraz, he's won 31% and 21% of return points, respectively. This is a tall task.
4. Casper Ruud (No. 4 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 54.1% (two sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +1200 (equivalent to 8%) and 7%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Rune-Zverev-Alcaraz
He's been broken 11 times in four matches. He has yet to put together a genuinely easy, "win 60% or more of your points" win, even in a straight-set first-rounder. But after a challenging start to 2023 -- after reaching two Slam finals last year (including the French Open), he was just 15-11 with zero top-30 wins when he came to Roland Garros -- Ruud is grinding out wins and taking advantage of opportunities. That's what he tends to do at this tournament: He's 17-5 all time in the French Open and 15-12 in all other Slams. He might lack the firepower of other top players, but clay is forever an equalizer in that regard.
As with most of the highly seeded quarterfinalists, he hasn't faced a seeded player yet, a run that will obviously end in the next round. But one thing he's proven in Paris is that you have to knock him out -- he's not going to do it for you. He dropped sets in five of his six wins on the way to the final last year, and he's done so twice in four this year. But he keeps advancing.
5. Holger Rune (No. 6 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 52.1% (three sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +900 (equivalent to 10%) and 16%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Ruud-Zverev-Alcaraz
In 20-year-old Rune's fourth-round win over Francisco Cerundolo -- he complained of dizziness during a 6-1 fourth-set loss, and he was putting almost all of his energy into holding serve for much of the fifth -- but he managed to win enough of the big points to advance, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6.
With proper recovery, Rune could still do something special this coming week. He's 1-4 all-time against Ruud, his next opponent, but he's won their only meeting since last year's French Open, a three-setter in the Rome semifinals. A win here would move him into the ATP top five for the first time. At his best, he's like a feistier, cockier Lleyton Hewitt -- as Tennis Channel analyst Caroline Wozniacki said during his fourth-round match, he carries himself like he's the better player in any match, even against Djokovic -- and if fitness holds, his finals odds are strong.
6. Alexander Zverev (No. 22 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 56.5% (one set lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +800 (equivalent to 11%) and 7%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Etcheverry-Ruud-Alcaraz
Everything in Zverev's tennis life fell apart in the French Open semifinals last year. Deep into the second of two extremely tight sets against Nadal, he suffered one of the more gruesome ankle injuries you'll see, tearing ligaments and screaming in pain on court. He returned to action in January, but only sort of. He lost six of his first nine matches, and he was just 16-14 in 2023 -- 0-6 against the top 10 -- when this year's French Open began.
Now he's 20-14. He beat No. 12 seed Frances Tiafoe in the third round and No. 28 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth. He has advanced to this point with a level of confidence and maturity that had evaded him since last year in Paris. He has saved 34 of 42 break points (81%) in four matches, he has converted 21 of 50 (42%), and he has won all four tiebreakers he's played. You would rather just dominate outright and not have to win so many huge points, but the fact that he's doing so is pretty incredible considering what happened in Paris and what's happened since. And his remaining draw is awfully tantalizing.
7. Tomas Martin Etcheverry
Pct. of points won thus far: 57.7% (zero sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +4000 (equivalent to 2%) and 1%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Zverev-Ruud-Alcaraz
With the skyrocketing success of players like Alcaraz and Rune, it's pretty difficult to stand out as an up-and-comer. To date, the 6-foot-5, 23-year old Etcheverry has done so the old-fashioned way: slowly. He has finished every year ranked higher than the one before it -- 257th in 2020, 130th in 2021, 79th in 2022 and 49th heading into the French Open -- and after reaching the second round of a Slam for the first time at the Australian, he's now into his first quarterfinal.
He's gotten here with panache, winning straight-setters over three straight seeded players (Alex De Minaur, Borna Coric, Yoshihito Nishioka) and combining sturdy, clay-court defense with power moments. He's averaged 10.6 winners per set, and he's both landing his first serve a solid amount (between 60-67% in each match) and dominating with it -- he's won 78.9% of his first-serve points. (For context, the best first-serve win rate on clay this year was 80.2% heading into the French Open.) He and Djokovic are the only men's quarterfinalists not to have dropped a set.
8. Karen Khachanov (No. 11)
Pct. of points won thus far: 53.7% (four sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +7500 (equivalent to 1%) and 2%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Djokovic-Alcaraz-Ruud
The 27-year-old Khachanov has found his superpower in recent years: He's always there. You can't get rid of him. After years of crashing out in the third or fourth round in Slams -- he made just two quarterfinals in his first 22 attempts -- he reached the semis at both the US Open and Australian Open, and now he's into the quarters in Paris. He's flirted with danger for most of the last week -- he dropped the first two sets against Constant Lestienne before finding his rhythm in the first round, and three of his four wins lasted at least three and a half hours. But he was able to outlast two straight big hitters (Thanasi Kokkinakis in the third round, Lorenzo Sonego in the fourth), and he's poised to move back into the ATP top 10 for the first time since 2019.
Khachanov spoke of playing chess after his win over Sonego, and there's no question that he's seeing the board well right now. This time last year, he was 43-22 all-time in Slams. He's gone 14-2 since. Reaching a third straight Slam semi, however, will require beating Djokovic, against whom he's 1-8.
1. Iga Swiatek (No. 1 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 64.3% (zero sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): -180 (equivalent to 64%) and 48%, respectively
Potential title path (highest seeds): Gauff-Jabeur-Sabalenka
You know things are going pretty well when you have to scold the media about the name they've come up with for all your 6-0 sets. But even if "Iga's Bakery" -- Get it? Because of all those bagels? -- doesn't get her seal of approval, it's still pretty meaningful. Four of her first six sets of the tournament were bagels, and she at one point won 23 straight games. I mentioned above that winning 60% or more points qualifies as a particularly easy win? Well, in her first four matches she's won 61%, 60%, 75% and 64%.
This is "Steffi Graf in 1988" levels of dominance for the two-time French Open champ. She entered as the favorite, and she hasn't given any reason to change that.
That's not to say she doesn't have challenges remaining. She'll face fellow 2022 finalist Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals, and if seeds hold she could play Ons Jabeur in the semis (against whom she's 4-2 all-time, 2-0 on clay) and Aryna Sabalenka in the final (5-3, 3-1). Sabalenka has won two of the last three against the world No. 1, but in Paris, Iga is the favorite until proven otherwise.
2. Aryna Sabalenka (No. 2 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 56.9% (zero sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +300 (equivalent to 25%) and 26%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Svitolina-Muchova-Swiatek
Sabalenka has done all she can to make this a co-No. 1 situation. She's won 16 of her last 17 matches in Slams, she's 13-2 on clay this year (1-1 vs. Swiatek), and against Sloane Stephens she even threw in a little bit of adversity just to prove she could overcome it: After racing to a 5-0 lead in the first set against Stephens, who continues to play much better at Roland Garros than anywhere else, she watched Stephens charge back to force a tiebreaker ... and went on to win, 7-6, 6-4.
Just as it's always about the return for Tsitsipas, it's always about the serve for Sabalenka. As in, can she land it? Over the last year she's 7-6 when she double-faults more than 10% of the time and 48-9 when she doesn't. But in 226 service points through four rounds in Pairs, she's double-faulted just eight times (3.5%). She's been broken only six times in eight sets. Not many players in the world can beat her if she's not giving them free points on her serve.
3. Ons Jabeur (No. 7)
Pct. of points won thus far: 56.0% (one set lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +900 (equivalent to 10%) and 14%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Haddad Maia-Jabeur-Sabalenka
It's been an odd year for Jabeur. After making the finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open, she ended 2022 ranked second in the world, but heading into April she was just 4-4 on the year. Minor injuries and inconsistency were setting her back, and after a big step forward (winning the Charleston title in April) came another step back (calf injury in Stuttgart). She couldn't defend her Madrid title and came to Paris ranked seventh, with zero wins (and only one match) in over a month.
If she's hurt or rusty or frustrated, you haven't been able to tell it over the last week. Aside from a slow start against Olga Danilovic in the third round, she has rolled to the quarterfinals, and against her first top-40 opponent of the tournament, Bernarda Pera in the fourth round, she raised her game, winning 60% of the points and cruising, 6-3, 6-1. She ran Pera ragged with the combination of 16 drop shots and six passing shots, and while her serve was an issue, her return was dominant. She's looking awfully Ons-like again.
4. Coco Gauff (No. 6 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 57.9% (two sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +1500 (equivalent to 6%) and 4%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Swiatek-Jabeur-Sabalenka
Gauff's problem-solving ability is remarkable, even before you remember that she's still only 19 years old. She fell into a "win the spectacular points, then drop easy ones" rut against Mirra Andreeva in the third round but buckled down, used her speed to play steadier, more human backboard tennis, and let her 16-year-old opponent start to self-destruct in a 6-7, 6-1, 6-1 win. Against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the fourth round, she briefly lost control of her forehand -- as can happen with her at times -- and calmly mixed in more slices and controlled points with her backhand until her timing returned and she could cruise, 7-5, 6-2.
It's somehow been both a challenging and steadying year for Gauff. She has struggled against fellow top players -- she's 0-2 against top-10ers in 2023 and just 4-7 against the top 40 -- but she's also made herself nearly upset-proof, going unbeaten with almost no drama against players outside of that range (while also becoming a top-five doubles player). Her next opponent, Swiatek, has swept all six of their previous meetings, so maybe her run comes to an end soon. But her trajectory remains solid.
5. Karolina Muchova
Pct. of points won thus far: 54.2% (one set lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +1800 (equivalent to 5%) and 4%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Pavlyuchenkova-Sabalenka-Swiatek
That Muchova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are paired up assures us of at least one awesome comeback story in the semis. Muchova missed six months of action in 2021-22, and despite an upset of Maria Sakkari at last year's French Open, her WTA ranking fell as low as the 230s last fall.
She'll be back in the top 30 when the next rankings come out. Muchova has rolled to her first French Open quarterfinal with a dominant serve; she won 57% of her second-serve points against Nadia Podoroska in the second round and 63% against Irina Camelia Begu in the third. She upset Sakkari once again, this time in the first round -- Sakkari's first serve completely disappeared on her, but Muchova also hit 23 winners and controlled the net -- and she's improved every match since. A win over Pavlyuchenkova (who leads the all-time series, 2-1) would give her a second career Slam semifinal appearance.
6. Elina Svitolina
Pct. of points won thus far: 53.8% (two sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +2500 (equivalent to 4%) and 2%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Sabalenka-Muchova-Swiatek
What a story. The Ukrainian and one-time world No. 3 quickly became one of the tour's more outspoken critics of Russia's war against Ukraine, and she withdrew from the tour in March, first citing emotional exhaustion and then revealing that she was pregnant. She became an active fundraiser for her Elina Svitolina Foundation, had her first child, Skai, in October, then returned to the tour in April and lost four of her first five matches. But she found a rhythm in winning the Strasbourg title the week before the French Open, and she's been on a mission in Paris. In the first round she took down 2022 semifinalist Martina Trevisan, 6-2, 6-2, and beat ninth-ranked Daria Kasatkina, 6-4, 7-6, on Saturday.
She's gotten this far by absolutely going for it. A defender by nature, she hit winners on just 10.8% of her points while making a run to the US Open semifinals in 2019. But through four matches in Paris, on a more defense-friendly surface, she's hit winners on 16.9% of her points. The aggressiveness has worked well for her, but now she faces one of the most aggressive players on the tour in Sabalenka. The two have split a pair of head-to-head matches but haven't played since 2020.
7. Beatriz Haddad Maia (No. 14 seed)
Pct. of points won thus far: 53.6% (three sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +3500 (equivalent to 3%) and 1%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Jabeur-Swiatek-Sabalenka
There's urgency and aggression in her game, but no one can question Beatriz Haddad Maia's patience. The 27-year-old lefty from Sao Paulo has missed lengths of time with back and hand injuries. She missed most of 2019 under a doping investigation. She had never finished a year ranked higher than 71st until a summer 2022 charge -- she won two grass-court tournaments and reached the final in Toronto -- brought her to the brink of the top 10. And hell, even in maybe the biggest win of her career, a nearly four-hour three-setter over Sara Sorribes Tormo that brought her to her first Slam quarterfinal (and the first for a Brazilian woman since 1968), she had to serve for the match twice to finish the job.
It's fair to wonder how much Haddad Maia has left in the tank at this point. Her last three matches have lasted nearly 9.5 combined hours, and she's already three rounds beyond her best Slam performance to date. Jabeur beat her, 6-3, 6-0, a few weeks ago in Stuttgart, and we might see a similar result here. But credit the extreme resourcefulness she's shown, and the history she's made, to date.
8. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Pct. of points won thus far: 53.7% (three sets lost)
Title odds (per Caesars and Tennis Abstract): +3000 (equivalent to 3%) and 2%
Potential title path (highest seeds): Muchova-Sabalenka-Swiatek
She didn't pick up a racquet for five months last year while recuperating from a knee injury. She came to Paris just 8-9 for the year and a meager 5-4 on clay. But the 2021 French Open finalist has now won 10 of her last 11 matches at Roland Garros and has shown a stunning level of mental strength, losing the first set in each of her last three matches, all against top-30 opponents -- Liudmila Samsonova, Anastasia Potapova and Elise Mertens -- and coming back to win each time.
She's gotten to the second week with a consistently outstanding return. She's won at least 41% of her first-serve return points in three of four matches and at least 59% of her second-serve return points in all four. She's created 15 more break points than her opponents, and she's converted a higher rate, too (47% to opponents' 41%). Muchova has one of the best second serves in the game, so these percentages might get tested. But Pavlyuchenkova has passed every test she's faced since she came back to Paris.