Nadal, Djokovic, Federer in same half of draw

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, the three most successful men in Grand Slam tennis history, were on Thursday all drawn in the same half at Roland Garros.

Having slipped to No 3 in the world, it was always likely that Nadal, the 13-time champion, would face top-ranked Djokovic before the final.

The two great rivals could now meet in the semifinals this year.

Djokovic, the 2016 champion, is top seed and could possibly face 2009 winner Federer in the quarterfinals.

All three men are chasing history at Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday.

Nadal and Federer are locked on 20 Grand Slams each while Djokovic, who has 18, can become the first man in over half a century to win all four majors on more than one occasion.

Nadal, who has a 100-2 record at the tournament, starts his bid for a 14th Roland Garros title against Alexei Popyrin of Australia, the world number 62.

His most likely quarterfinal opponent is Russia’s Andrey Rublev who defeated him at the Monte Carlo Masters last month.

Djokovic tackles 66th-ranked Tennys Sandgren of the United States in his first round match while Federer, playing the tournament for the first time since 2019, begins against a qualifier.

Fellow veteran Marin Cilic, a former US Open winner, is a possible second round rival.

Djokovic has lost three finals to Nadal at Roland Garros in 2012, 2014 and then last year where the Spaniard swept to victory 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.

Russia’s second seed Daniil Medvedev, who has lost all four times he has played at Roland Garros, starts against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.

Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem, seeded four, begins against Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar.

It was Andujar who defeated Federer in Geneva last week in the Swiss great’s only appearance on clay this season.

In the women’s draw, world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, the 2019 champion, tackles Bernarda Pera of the United States first up.

Second seed Naomi Osaka, a four-time major winner who has never got past the third round in Paris, begins against Romania’s 63rd-ranked Patricia Maria Tig.

Serena Williams, a three-time Roland Garros winner and still seeking an elusive record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, faces Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.

Defending champion Iga Swiatek plays close friend Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in her opener.

If the seedings pan out, Barty and Swiatek will face each other in the semifinals.

Williams is in the other half of the draw where Osaka is seeded to face Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka in the last four. — AFP.