Rafael Nadal might one day be dethroned as the ‘King of Clay’ but that day is not here just yet, believes Paul McNamee. The former doubles World No. 1 picked Nadal as the favorite for the 2023 French Open once more, ahead of another Spanish superstar — Carlos Alcaraz.

Alcaraz won his first title of 2023 on Sunday, beating Cameron Norrie 6-3, 7-5 in straight sets in the final of the Argentina Open. With the World No. 2 having opened his account on clay, tennis journalist Christopher Clarey took to Twitter to declare that he liked Alcaraz’s chances at the upcoming French Open.

“Carlos Alcaraz. 2023 French Open champ. I like his chances,” Clarey tweeted.

McNamee, however, begged to differ, stating that Nadal, the defending champion as well as a 14-time winner on the claycourts of Paris, shouldn’t be written off so easily.

“Nup… there’s another Spanish guy who’s got to be dethroned on clay before we start crowning others imo,” McNamee wrote back.

Carlos Alcaraz eyes return to World No. 1 spot, Rafael Nadal risks dropping out of top 10

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal are experiencing contrasting fortunes on the ATP Tour right now, with one eyeing his return to the top and the other at risk of dropping out of the top 10.

Speaking after his Buenos Aires title run, Alcaraz remarked that he hoped to enjoy a good year, one where he planned to fight it out with Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and others for the coveted World No. 1 spot.

“I have a good year ahead of me. I’m defending one title or another, I have some very nice tournaments ahead and I hope to enjoy them,” Alcaraz said. “As you said, I’m fighting for the number one with Djokovic, Tsitsipas, they are the closest, but that does not mean that behind there are no other players.”

Nadal, on the other hand, is recovering from the hip injury he sustained at the recently concluded Australian Open, where he exited in the second round. A long lay-off has resulted in the Spaniard missing out on a lot of points, and with his presence in Indian Wells under doubt as well, the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s run of 18 straight years remaining in the top 10 looks like it might come to an end.

However, bar the French Open, the 36-year-old doesn’t defend many points elsewhere, and it should be a swift rise back to the top, provided his body co-operates.