French Open

Nadal, Djokovic face last-eight duel

2015-05-22 12:30
Novak Djokovic (AFP)

Paris -

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic were placed on a mouth-watering French Open quarter-final collision course in Friday's draw.

Nadal is seeded a lowly sixth this year after slipping to seven in the rankings and as a result was always likely to face one of his major rivals in the last eight.

"It's very strange," admitted Nadal, promoted to the sixth seeding after the injury-enforced pull-out of Canada's Milos Raonic. "It's never happened before.

"But I have to play four matches to get to the quarter-finals. I have to be ready for the first round."

Nadal defeated Djokovic in the 2012 and 2014 finals, but the top-seeded Serb, who turned 28 on Friday, is the overwhelming favourite for a maiden Roland Garros title this year.

Djokovic goes into the French Open, which starts Sunday, riding a 22-match unbeaten streak and has already captured a fifth Australian Open and Masters crowns in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome this year.

Djokovic, bidding to become only the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam, starts his campaign in Paris against experienced 33-year-old Finn Jarkko Nieminen while Nadal begins against 18-year-old French wildcard Quentin Halys, the world number 304.

The world number one said he wasn't surprised by the draw which put Nadal into his section.

"I think that even a few weeks ago when Rafa dropped from the top four, I think people already started talking the eventual quarter-finals with one of the top guys. So it's not a surprise," said the Serb.

"It's been something that was building up already for a few weeks. But again, it's a draw. You can't affect it. There is always a chance that that's gonna happen."

The other potential quarter-finals could see second seed Roger Federer, the 2009 champion, face Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka.

Third seeded Andy Murray was drawn for a potential last-eight clash against David Ferrer while Tomas Berdych could tackle Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Federer, the 2009 champion, starts against a qualifier but has Latvian 24th seed Ernests Gulbis, who knocked him out in the fourth round last year, also in his section.

French star Gael Monfils, who defeated Federer at the Davis Cup final in 2014, is a potential fourth round opponent.

Murray is a possible semi-final opponent for Djokovic as well as Nadal with the Scot, the champion on clay in Munich and Madrid this year and with a 10-0 record on the surface, starting against a qualifier.

Murray, a semi-finalist last year, could face Australian hope Nick Kyrgios, who beat Federer in Madrid, in the third round.

In the women's singles, top seed Serena Williams was handed a tough draw which could see the American taking on old rival Victoria Azarenka and sister Venus before the quarter-finals.

Williams, the 2002 and 2013 champion and just three majors shy of matching Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, starts against a qualifier but could meet sister Venus in the last 16.

Two-time Australian Open winner and former number one Azarenka is a potential third round opponent for Williams.

Adding extra spice to the draw is the presence of bitter American rival Sloane Stephens in Serena's half.

Stephens could face the two-time champion in the last 16 but she starts against Venus.

In contrast, second seeded defending champion Maria Sharapova starts against experienced Estonian Kaia Kanepi and could tackle Spanish claycourter Carla Sanchez Navarro in the quarter-finals.

Former number one Caroline Wozniacki is a possible last-eight opponent for Williams.

Third seed Simona Halep, the runner-up in 2014, could meet 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-finals.

Petra Kvitova, the fourth-seeded Wimbledon champion is in Serena's half of the draw and a potential semi-final rival.

Kvitova knocked the American out of Madrid this month, ending the 19-time major winner's 27-match win streak.

French Open men's singles first round draw (x denotes seeded player):

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Jarko Nieminen (FIN)

Gilles Muller (LUX) v Pablo Lorenzi (ITA)

Qualifier v Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)

Qualifier v Bernard Tomic (AUS x27)

Richard Gasquet (FRA x20) v Qualifier

Qualifier v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)

Blaz Kavcic (SLO) v Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE)

Tim Smyczek (USA) v Kevin Anderson (RSA x15)

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x10) v Jack Sock (USA)

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) v Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM)

Borna Coric (CRO) v Sam Querrey (USA)

Qualifier v Tommy Robredo (ESP x18)

Adrian Mannarino (FRA x30) v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)

Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) v Malek Jaziri (TUN)

Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)

Quentin Halys (FRA) v Rafael Nadal (ESP x6)

Andy Murray (GBR x3) v Qualifier

Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Joao Sousa (POR)

Qualifier v Qualifier

Denis Istomin (UZB) v Nick Kyrgios (AUS x29)

David Goffin (BEL x17) v Filip Krajinovic (SRB)

Santiago Giraldo (COL) v Donald Young (USA)

Jrmy Chardy (FRA) v Qualifier

Andreas Seppi (ITA) v John Isner (USA x16)

Marin Cilic (CRO x9) v Robin Haase (NED)

James Duckworth (AUS) v Qualifier

Jerzy Janowicz (POL) v Maxime Hamou (FRA)

Jiri Vesely (CZE) v Leonardo Mayer (ARG x23)

Viktor Troicki (SRB x31) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

Simone Bolelli (ITA) v Steve Darcis (BEL)

Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) v Joao Souza (BRA)

Lukas Lacko (SVK) v David Ferrer (ESP x7)

Kei Nishikori (JPN x5) v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)

Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)

Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) v Benjamin Becker (GER)

Qualifier v Fernando Verdasco (ESP x32)

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x19) v Florian Mayer (GER)

Qualifier v Lukas Rosol (CZE)

Juan Monaco (ARG) v Federico Delbonis (ARG)

Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) v Feliciano Lopez (ESP x11)

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x14) v Qualifier

Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) v Dudi Sela (ISR)

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) v Pablo Andujar (ESP)

Go Soeda (JPN) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x22)

Fabio Fognini (ITA x28) v Tatsuma Ito (JPN)

Qualifier v Benot Paire (FRA)

Ivan Dodig (CRO) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)

Qualifier v Thomas Berdych (CZE x4)

Stan Wawrinka (SUI x8) v Marsel Ilhan (TUR)

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) v Maximo Gonzalez (ARG)

Ricardas Berankis (LTU) v Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)

Steve Johnson (USA) v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP x26)

Ernests Gulbis (LAT x24) v Qualifier

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) v Qualifier

Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Martin Klizan (SVK)

Lucas Pouille (FRA) v Gilles Simon (FRA x12)

Gal Monfils (FRA x13) v Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT)

Dominic Thiem (AUT) v Aljaz Bedene (SLO)

Sam Groth (AUS) v Pablo Cuevas (URU x21)

Ivo Karlovic (CRO x25) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)

Damir Dzumhur (BIH) v Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)

Marcel Granollers (ESP) v Qualifier

Qualifier v Roger Federer (SUI x2)

French Open women's singles first round draw (x denotes seeded player):

Serena Williams (USA x1) v Qualifier

Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) v Qualifier

Zheng Saisai (CHN) v Lucie Hradecka (CZE)

Maria-Tesera Torro-Flor (ESP) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR x27)

Barbora Strycova (CZE x22) v Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)

Denisa Allertova (CZE) v Qualifier

Mathilde Johansson (FRA) v Heather Watson (GBR)

Sloane Stephens (USA) v Venus Williams (USA x15)

Andrea Petkovic (GER x10) v Shelby Rogers (USA)

Qualifier v Christina McHale (USA)

Carina Witthoeft (GER) v Katerina Siniakova (CZE)

Alison Riske (USA) v Sara Errani (ITA x17)

Jelena Jankovic (SRB x25) v Qualifier

Irina Falconi (USA) v Manon Arcangioli (FRA)

Coco Vandeweghe (USA) v Julia Goerges (GER)

Karin Knapp (ITA) v Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x5)

Petra Kvitova (CZE x4) v Marina Erakovic (NZL)

Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) v Pauline Parmentier (FRA)

Qualifier v Ana Konjuh (CRO)

Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM x30)

Timea Bacsinszky (SUI x23) v Lara Arruabarrena (ESP)

Tereza Smitkova (CZE) v Taylor Townsend (USA)

Belinda Bencic (SUI) v Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) v Madison Keys (USA x16)

Karoline Pliskova (CZE x12) v Zhang Shuai (CHN)

Andreea Mitu (ROM) v Aliz Lim (FRA)

Wang Qiang (CHN) v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)

Kiki Bertens (NED) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x18)

Zarina Diyas (KAZ x32) v Qualifier

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) v Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL)

Klara Koukalova (CZE) v Danka Kovinic (MNE)

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) v Eugenie Bouchard (CAN x6)

Anna Ivanovic (SRB x7) v Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)

Petra Cetkovska (CZE) v Misaki Doi (JPN)

Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) v Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)

Donna Vekic (CRO) v Caroline Garcia (FRA x31)

Peng Shuai (CHN x24) v Polona Hercog (SLO)

Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) v Elena Vesnina (RUS)

Fiona Ferro (FRA) v Qualifier

Louisa Chirico (USA) v Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x9)

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL/N.14) v Annika Beck (GER)

Qualifier v Mona Barthel (GER)

Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) v Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)

Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) v Elina Svitolina (UKR x19)

Aliz Cornet (FRA x19) v Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) v Nicole Gibbs (USA)

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) v Lauren Davis (USA)

Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) v Simona Halep (ROM x3)

Xarla Suarez Navarro (ESP x8) v Monica Niculescu (ROM)

Virginie Razzano (FRA) v Qualifier

Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) v Qualifier

Magda Linette (POL) v Flavia Pennetta (ITA x28)

Garbine Muguruza (ESP x21) v Qualifier

Tatjana Maria (GER) v Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Casey Dellacqua (AUS) v Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)

Timea Babos (HUN) v Angelique Kerber (GER x11)

Lucie Safarova (CZE x13) v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

Ocane Dodin (FRA) v Kurumi Nara (JPN)

Johanna Larsson (SWE) v Daria Gavrilova (AUS)

Monica Puig (PUR) v Sabine Lisicki (GER x20)

Samantha Stosur (AUS x26) v Madison Brengle (USA)

Amandine Hesse (FRA) v Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS)

Stefanie Voegele (SUI) v Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS)

Kaia Kanepi (EST) v Maria Sharapova (RUS x2)

Read more on:    french open  |  rafael nadal  |  novak djokovic  |  tennis
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