A 2024 French Open preview

May 26, 2024
From the history and how it works to the players to watch, today’s scroll covers everything you need to know about tennis’ second Grand Slam of the year.
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A 2024 French Open preview
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📗 The history

Originally known as the “Championnat de France,” the first French Open was held in 1891 but was only open to male members of French tennis clubs. Luckily, the organizers quickly realized their mistake and introduced a women’s singles tournament six years later.

  • The 1925 event was the first to welcome international competitors, though French nationals still won that inaugural year: René Lacoste (yes, that René Lacoste) and “La Divine” Suzanne Lenglen.

The Championnat was played in various locations throughout the early years, but in 1928, it found its current home: the iconic Stade Roland-Garros (named for aviator Roland Garros).

  • The tournament became known as the French Open in 1968, when it officially “opened” to both amateurs and professionals. The French still like to refer to it as Roland-Garros, but whatever you call it, one thing’s for sure — c’est magnifique.

✅ How it works

A 2024 French Open preview
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The French Open runs from late May to early June and features 128 women’s and men’s singles players competing in seven single-elimination rounds. It all culminates with the women’s singles final on Saturday, June 8th and the men’s on Sunday, June 9th.

  • And that’s not even mentioning the 64 women’s and men’s doubles pairs, along with the 32 mixed team duos. More is more.

As for prize money, a grand total of €53.5M (~$58M USD) is on the line for the single competition, with both the men’s and women’s winners taking home €2.4M (~$2.6M USD). For context, the French Open was the last Grand Slam to reach full gender parity after finally making the move in 2007.

Most importantly, the French Open is known for the surface it’s played on: clay. Yes, a few other tourneys are also played on clay courts, but the French Open is the only Grand Slam to use the surface.

  • Hard-surface courts result in true bounces and faster play, but clay tends to slow the ball down. Players with more finesse and strategy to their game tend to perform better on clay than those who rely on power. The more you know.

💪 Women to watch

A 2024 French Open preview
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🇵🇱 No. 1 Iga Świątek: The two-time defending champ is as hot as ever and heads into Paris fresh off a dominant win on the Italian Open clay courts. If she can keep up her recent run of form, she’ll be the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to win three straight French Opens and will have four Roland-Garros victories in the last five years.

🏅 No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka: If anyone can give Świątek a run for her money, it’s Sabalenka, who battled Świątek in the Italian Open final, and won her second straight Australian Open in January. After being bounced in the French Open semis last year, Sabalenka will be swinging with a vengeance this time around.

🇺🇲 No. 3 Coco Gauff: Gauff sure knows how to shine in the City of Light after a memorable run to the final in 2022. Now with a 2023 U.S. Open victory and a semis appearance at this year’s Australian Open under her belt, expect even more marvelous play from the 20-year-old phenom.

🇰🇿 No. 4 Elena Rybakina: Rybakina’s battled illness all season long, but that hasn’t stopped her from racking up wins, including an April victory at the Stuttgart Open. Plus, Rybakina has one of the best head-to-head records against Świątek, having beaten the world No. 1 four out of six times. It’s always the quiet ones.

👊 Men to watch

A 2024 French Open preview
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🇪🇸 No. 276 Rafael Nadal: Yes, he’s fallen precipitously in the world rankings, but Rafa still gets top billing when it comes to the French Open. “The King of Clay” has a record 14 Roland-Garros titles and an astounding 112-3 record at the tournament. Not too shabby.

  • Lingering injuries remain a concern, but Nadal’s return to his best tourney is worth celebrating, especially with retirement looming.

🇳🇴 No. 7 Casper Ruud: Nadal might be “The King of Clay,” but Casper Ruud is the prince. Having trained at Nadal’s clay court academy, the Norweigan’s always a “candidate for winning every clay-court event that he’s playing.” After reaching the finals in 2022 and 2023, maybe this will finally be the year he takes the crown.

🇷🇸 No. 1 Novak Djokovic: Last year’s champ and the only man not named Rafael Nadal to hoist the French Open trophy in the last eight years, the Joker’s back to defend his title in Paris. And he looks primed to add to his record total of Grand Slams, fresh off a deep run at the clay court Geneva Open.

🇪🇸 No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz: With Nadal pondering retirement, Alcaraz is next in line for Spain. The 21-year-old already has two major titles to his name — the 2022 U.S. Open and 2023 Wimbledon — and is the slight favorite heading into this tourney. Known for his incredible speed, this youngster’s game will surely make you say “ooh la la.”

📺 How to tune in

A 2024 French Open preview
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The action is already underway with daily tennis on deck for the next two weeks. Follow the full schedule here and tune in on NBC in the U.S. and TSN in Canada. Très — and we cannot stress this enough — bien.