Paris - World number one Novak Djokovic,
record nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and women's title-holder Serena Williams
begin their French Open campaigns on Tuesday with the forecast far more
promising after a rain-hit first two days at Roland Garros.
Three-time Roland Garros finalist Djokovic
will embark on another quest to complete a career Grand Slam with Taiwan's Lu
Yen-Hsun, the world number 95, his first-round opponent on Court Philippe
The Serb has won four of the last five
majors with his only failure in that timeframe a four-set defeat to an inspired
Stan Wawrinka in last year's Paris final.
"I got ten matches out of two weeks,
which is maximum I could get out of Madrid and Rome, and it was a perfect way
of getting the match play that I needed before French Open," said
Djokovic, who warmed up for the tournament by winning a record 29th Masters
title in Spain a fortnight ago.
"Of course the expectations are big
not just from my side but from people around knowing that this is the only
Grand Slam I never won.
"I still feel like I have plenty of
more years ahead of me, which gives me more comfort in terms of opportunities
I'm going to have at the title of Roland Garros, which releases more pressure
for me this year."
Nadal suffered just a second ever defeat in
Paris when he lost to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals, but the Spanish
fourth seed remains as committed as ever in the hunt for a 10th French Open
His first round encounter against Sam Groth
on Court Suzanne Lenglen appears a total mismatch, with the 100th-ranked
Australian still looking for his first main draw win at Roland Garros.
However, the Australian boasts one of the
game's most powerful serves and Nadal is wary of facing Groth for the first
"Well, he has a huge serve. He's
uncomfortable first round. He's a difficult one," said Nadal.
"You need to be ready to suffer a
little bit during the match, because I know it's going to be difficult to have
Andy Murray will resume his first-round tie
against 37-year-old Radek Stepanek after recovering from two sets down to move
within two games of forcing a decider on Monday before play was suspended due
The world number two will resume on Tuesday
trailing 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 4-2 after fighting back against the oldest player in
Women's defending champion Serena Williams
will hope it's third time lucky as she tries to successfully retain the title,
having seen two previous attempts in 2003 and 2014 end prematurely.
The world number one, who lifted her first
trophy for nine months at the Italian Open last weekend, gets underway against
77th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova.
"I think now it's different because I
want to win more than I think most people ever, but also I think it's different
now because I don't have anything to prove and I don't have anything - it's
just a different feeling," said Williams of her mindset when approaching a
tournament as the defending champion.
"Whereas five, ten years ago, oh, I'm
defending and I feel that pressure. Now it's like I'm defending, I'm in Paris,
it's cool, and I'm having, you know, the time of my life. I'm just happy to be
Williams, whose bid for a calendar Grand
Slam was shattered by Roberta Vinci at last year's US Open, remains one major
title shy of Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22.
Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open
champion, will start against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, but the third seed's
preparations have been far from ideal.
Kerber suffered successive opening match
defeats in Madrid and Rome before withdrawing from last week's Nuremberg Open
with a shoulder injury.
Two-time Australian Open winner Victoria
Azarenka, the fifth seed, faces Karin Knapp of Italy.
Former champions Ana Ivanovic (2008) and
Francesca Schiavone (2010) are both in first-round action, while seven-time
Grand Slam winner Venus Williams, a 2002 runner-up in Paris, opens against
Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.