Paris, May 27: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all ended up in the same half of the French Open men’s field in the draw Thursday, meaning no more than one of them can reach the final.
The Big Three top the leaderboard for Grand Slam men’s singles titles: Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where play begins Sunday, tied with 20, while Djokovic has 18. Rafael Nadal’s Statue Revealed At Roland Garros Ahead of French Open 2021 First Round Matches.
Nadal beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final for his record-extending 13th championship on the red clay of Paris, but if they meet again this time, it would be in the semifinals. Nadal is ranked and seeded No. 3 now and so he could have wound up on either side of the bracket; as luck would have it, he was placed in No. 1 Djokovic’s half.
So was Federer, whose record for most weeks atop the ATP rankings recently was broken by Djokovic and is currently at No. 8 after playing only three matches over the past 15 months because of two operations on his right knee. Federer could meet Djokovic in the quarterfinals. The other possible men’s quarterfinals on their side is Nadal vs. No. 7 Andrey Rublev.
On the other side of the draw, the potential quarterfinals are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, and No. 4 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev. Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist but is 0-4 for his French Open career. Thiem won last year’s US Open and twice has been the runner-up in Paris.
Serena Williams, who has won three of her professional-era record 23 Grand Slam titles in Paris, is in a quarter of the women’s draw filled with familiar faces. That includes possible matchups with three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the third round, two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the fourth and either two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka or No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.
The other possible women’s quarterfinals are No. 1 Ash Barty vs. No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 4 Sofia Kenin vs. No. 8 Iga Swiatek in what would be a rematch of the 2020 final won by Swiatek, and No. 2 Naomi Osaka vs. No. 6 Bianca Andreesscu.
Four-time major champion Osaka announced Wednesday on Twitter that she would not be doing news conferences during the French Open. A year after withdrawing from Roland Garros before the second round because of an injured left Achilles, Williams will face 74th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania to begin things. They met once before: On red clay in Rome in 2016, the year Begu reached the fourth round in Paris for the deepest French Open run of her career.
Other first-round matches of interest include Swiatek against Kaja Juvan, a 20-year-old from Slovenia who beat Kerber in the first round in Paris last year; Azarenka against another owner of two major trophies, Svetlana Kuznetsova; and Kenin, last year’s Australian Open champion, against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Nadal and Swiatek are the favorites to win the singles titles, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
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