The French Open finds itself in an unusual spot in the calendar, two weeks after the U.S. Open in the brisk fall instead the Parisian spring and the last Grand Slam event of the year rather than the second. Like at the U.S. Open this year, a number of top players are sitting out, including Roger Federer, defending champion Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open winner. A surge in COVID-19 cases in France has darkened the cloud over the tournament, which is allowing 1,000 spectators each day. Here are six players who could make a big impact at Roland Garros.

Men’s players to watch

Rafael Nadal

Age: 34 • Country: Spain • Rank: No. 2

Best Grand Slam result: 19-time champion

Perhaps no one else should be on this list. Nadal has won this tournament 12 times, including the past three years. He skipped the U.S. Open in order to be ready for Paris, where he could tie Roger Federer’s record with a 20th Grand Slam title. Last week on clay in Rome, he rather shockingly lost in the quarterfinals to Diego Schwartzman, but it was Nadal’s first tournament in 6½ months and Roland Garros is a different beast.

Dominic Thiem

Age: 27 • Country: Austria • Rank: No. 3

Best Grand Slam result: 2020 U.S. Open champion

Thiem is arguably the second-best player in the world on clay, having lost to Nadal in the past two French Open finals. That Thiem won his first major title on the hard courts of the U.S. Open this month is something of a surprise. He did not play a clay-court warmup event, and how he recovers physically and mentally after a grueling two weeks in New York will be key. He also got a brutal draw.

Novak Djokovic

Age: 33 • Country: Serbia • Rank: No. 1

Best Grand Slam result: 17-time champion

Yes, Djokovic got disqualified from the U.S. Open in the fourth round after accidentally hitting a lineswoman with a ball. But other than that likely-never-to-be-repeated event, he hasn’t lost a match this year and won the Rome title on Monday. Djokovic has only one French Open title, in 2016, among his 17 major championships.

Women’s players to watch

Simona Halep

Age: 29 • Country: Romania • Rank: No. 2

Best Grand Slam result: Two-time champion

Halep was one of the several top-10 women to decide not to play the U.S. Open, preferring to stay home in Europe and prepare for Roland Garros. She will be the top seed and was the 2018 champion in Paris, where the clay fits her tenacious style. Halep, who has won 10 matches in a row and two clay-court titles since the tennis restart in August, is the clear favorite on the women’s side.

Victoria Azarenka

Age: 31 • Country: Belarus • Rank: No. 14

Best Grand Slam result: Two-time champion

Before Aug. 22, Azarenka hadn’t won a match in a year. But then she won the Western and Southern Open and reached the championship of the U.S. Open, losing to Naomi Osaka in three tight sets. Azarenka has never had much success at the French Open, but she is playing freely and confidently.

Garbine Muguruza

Age: 26 • Country: Spain • Rank: No. 15

Best Grand Slam result: Two-time champion

The 2016 French Open champion, Muguruza was having a resurgent season, reaching the final in Australia, when the pandemic halted play. While she is 5-2 since the season resumed, including a second-round loss at the U.S. Open, she is battle-tested going into Paris, after tight matches against Halep, Azarenka and Coco Gauff in Rome this month.