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French Open: Australian hopes for men's singles success

Australian players dominated the men's singles event at the French Open throughout the 1960s, but that is now a very long time ago.

Four of the five finals between 1965 and 1969 were all-Australian affairs, while the 1966 final saw Tony Roche defeat Hungary's Istvan Gulyas to claim his only title on the Paris clay.

However, no Aussie has even reached the final since Roy Emerson beat Roche in the year that man first landed on the Moon.

So what are the prospects that that run could end this time around in the French capital?

WhatFrench Open, men's singles
WhereParis, France
WhenSunday 28th May - Sunday 11th June
How to watchDiscovery+
OddsCarlos Alcaraz 2.25, Novak Djokovic 2.87, Holger Rune 8.00, Stefanos Tsitsipas 9.00

De Minaur the lone true hope

The sad truth for Australian fans is that Alex De Minaur at 81.00 to go all the way represents the sole hope for a player from Down Under to at least make a significant impact in Paris.

The 24-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the US Open back in 2020, so has shown that he can go deep at a Grand Slam event, while he has also reached the fourth round of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

He has made round four on two occasions in Melbourne and the second of those came earlier this year, so De Minaur does have recent success to drawn upon.

De Minaur dropped just one set in his first three matches, only to be overwhelmed 6-2 6-1 6-2 by eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

His record at the French Open is less promising, with the Sydney native having never gone further than round two, which he reached in both 2019 and 2021.

Four first-round exits complete his Paris record, with his two match wins coming against the unheralded pair of Bradley Klahn and Stefano Travaglia.

And his recent form on the European clay does not exactly spark thoughts of a major run in Paris, with De Minaur reaching round two in both Monte Carlo and Madrid, while a place in the third round in Barcelona was only achieved thanks to a walkover against Grigor Dimitrov.

Hardcourts are clearly a preference for De Minaur and expectations are unlikely to be very high heading into the second Grand Slam tournament of 2023.

Kubler could catch the eye

Of the six other Australian men in the singles draw for Paris, Jason Kubler is perhaps the one who demands a little focus as a possible shock performer in the French capital.

Kubler made round two on his Paris debut last year, defeating American Denis Kudla 7-6 7-6 7-6 before losing out in straight sets to tenth seed Cameron Norrie.

He went on to make the fourth round at Wimbledon and earlier this year partnered fellow Aussie Rinky Hijikata to glory in the men's doubles at their home Grand Slam in Melbourne.

Kubler, therefore, has experience of going all the way at a major tournament and, draw willing, could at least make it through a couple of rounds.

Meanwhile, Jordan Thompson will be hoping for better luck than he enjoyed 12 months ago, when he was drawn against Rafael Nadal in the first round and was swept away 6-2 6-2 6-2 by the 14-time champion.

Alexei Popyrin, Chris O’Connell, Max Purcell and Thanasi Kokkinakis complete the Aussie contingent in the men’s singles draw, 

Kokkinakis made the third round in Paris as a wildcard back in 2015, but has not won a match since on the red clay in the French capital.

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