Djokovic braced for Alcaraz and Nadal challenge
Novak Djokovic admits he will be fired up by the fiasco of his high-profile deportation from Australia when he targets a record-equalling 21st major on his Grand Slam return at the French Open.
World number one Djokovic captured a second Roland Garros title in 2021 followed by a sixth Wimbledon to move to 20 majors alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
However, his unseemly exit from Melbourne following his refusal to be vaccinated opened the door for Nadal to claim a second Australian Open and 21st Grand Slam crown.
"It's something that I never faced before," said Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, the opening day of the French Open.
Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.
It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.
Carlos Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles -- three on clay -- in 2022.
He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and third-ranked Alexander Zverev on the way.
"He definitely is special," admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.
Nadal comes into Paris with major question marks over his ability to lift a 14th title. A rib injury in March was followed by the re-emergence in Rome of his chronic foot injury where he limped to defeat in the last-16.