'Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be challenged by these three guys,' says Evert

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'Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be challenged by these three guys,' says Evert

By the draw's will, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic share the same half at a Major for the first time. In the bottom half, many players are hoping to reach the final and challenge Nadal and Djokovic in the final, two dominant figures at Majors in the last couple of years.

The seven-time Roland Garros winner Chris Evert spoke about the favorites ahead of the tournament, picking Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem as Nadal's and Djokovic's biggest rivals. Zverev, Thiem and Tsitsipas played their first-round matches in Paris on Sunday, with two of them scoring wins.

The two-time finalist Dominic Thiem fell to Pablo Andujar in five sets after four and a half hours, winning the opening two sets before losing ground and suffering one of his toughest defeats at Majors. Thiem has not been playing well this year, struggling to find motivation and performing way below his best.

Alexander Zverev stood on the verge of defeat against the fellow German Oscar Otte. World no. 6 trailed two sets to love in no time before he shifted into a higher gear and dropping only four games in sets three, four and five to avoid an early exit and make a winning start.

Stefanos Tsitsipas should be a player to beat in the bottom half, kicking off his Roland Garros campaign with a solid victory over Jeremy Chardy in straight sets.

Chris Evert picked her Roland Garros favorites.

"Stefanos Tsitsipas has been very impressive, not only with his tennis but the mental strength and calmness.

He looks excellent. I've been very impressed with Alexander Zverev, too; when he's serving well, he's really dangerous on any surface; it's just a matter of getting that serve going for him. Dominic Thiem is a former Roland Garros finalist; after having a break, I hope he has re-charged his batteries.

The three I've just mentioned are the top prospects because they've had wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. It is getting closer and closer, but the top two are still Nadal and Djokovic. Other players have beaten the 'Big 3,' and it's not only about them at Majors.

I think Tsitsipas has come a long way this year; he has impressed me the most of all the next-gen players. He has impressed me not only with his game but also with the aura he has around him. The mental strength he is showing, the calmness he is showing during the big points. I love the progression in his tennis," Chris Evert said.