Giants collide as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are in same half of French Open draw

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all in the same half of the draw for the French Open beginning on Sunday.

With Nadal having dropped behind Daniil Medvedev to third in the rankings, it raised the possibility of a lopsided draw, and so it has proved.

There can be no repeat of last year’s final, when Nadal defeated Djokovic to win a 20th Grand Slam title, with the pair seeded to meet in the last four.

Federer is a potential quarter-final opponent for Djokovic, although, given the 39-year-old’s lack of matches and stated target of hitting form on the grass, it would be something of a surprise if he made it that far.

Top seed Djokovic will open his campaign against American Tennys Sandgren while Nadal faces young Australian Alexei Popyrin and Federer meets a qualifier.

Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who also opens against a qualifier, has reached two ATP Tour finals on clay in the last month and is a potential third-round opponent for Nadal, although he will first have to get past in-form Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Medvedev, who reached his second slam final at the Australian Open but has never won a main draw match at Roland Garros, faces a tricky opener against in-form Kazakh Alexander Bublik.

Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are the other big names in the bottom half while British number one Dan Evans – another player looking for a first victory at Roland Garros – meets Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

In the women’s draw, defending champion Iga Swiatek opens against Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan and is in the same half as top seed Ashleigh Barty, who returns to Roland Garros for the first time since winning the title in 2019 and faces American Bernarda Pera first up.

Seventh seed Serena Williams is in the opposite half and meets Irina-Camelia Begu while second seed Naomi Osaka takes on another Romanian in Patricia Maria Tig, with both women short of match wins on clay.

With Harriet Dart losing in the final round of qualifying, Britain have just four representatives across the singles and neither Johanna Konta nor Heather Watson have shown encouraging form.

Konta, seeded 19 and defending ranking points from 2019’s semi-final, meets Sorana Cirstea of Romania, who beat her at the US Open last year, while Watson has won just one of her last seven matches and takes on Kazakh Zarina Diyas.

An interesting first-round match-up sees 2020 runner-up Sofia Kenin play former champion Jelena Ostapenko while Carla Suarez Navarro makes her return following successful cancer treatment against former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

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