Nadal, Federer, Djokovic in same half of French Open draw

Thirteen-time champion Rafael Nadal and his big rivals, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, were on Thursday drawn in the same half of the French Open.

The Spaniard, who has a 100-2 record at this event, will open against big-hitting Aussie Alexei Popyrin in the main draw starting on Sunday.

Players that he could face over the course of the tournament include seventh seed Andrey Rublev, 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev, Diego Schwartzman, Jannik Sinner and home favourite Gael Monfils before a potential face off with Djokovic in semi-finals.

Djokovic and Federer have won the French Open once each. World No.1 Djokovic will begin his run against two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren. If the Serbian wins, he will face former top-10 star Lucas Pouille or Uruguayan shotmaker Pablo Cuevas.

Federer, who made the semi-finals on his last Roland Garros appearance in 2019, will play a qualifier in the first round. The eighth seed could face former world No. 3 Marin Cilic in the second round.

In the women’s section, world No.1 Ash Barty will face American world No.70 Bernarda Pera in the top quarter. No.5 seed Elina Svitolina and No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova also landed in the top quarter, with the latter facing former top 20 player Donna Vekic in the opening round.

Eighth seed Iga Swiatek, who stormed to last year’s title without the loss of a set, opens her defence against Kaja Juvan. Two Grand Slam champions lead the bottom quarter — No.2 seed Naomi Osaka and No.6 seed Bianca Andreescu. Both these major winners are still seeking their first trips into the second week of Roland Garros.

Naomi faces world No.63 Patricia Maria Tig of Romania in the first round. Bianca meets world No.85 Tamara Zidansek.

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