Novak Djokovic could play Rafael Nadal in French Open quarter-final classic | French Open

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were handed their worst scenario in the French Open draw on Thursday after Nadal was drawn into Djokovic’s top quarter. As a result, the pair could face each other in the last eight.

The extremely unbalanced top half of the men’s draw is further complicated by the presence of the other favourite, the 19-year-old supernova Carlos Alcaraz, who defeated Nadal and Djokovic in consecutive matches to win the Madrid Open this month. He is projected to face Alexander Zverev, the third seed, in the quarter-finals, meaning Djokovic or Nadal could face Alcaraz or Zverev in the semi-finals.

Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, the 10th seed, will face the French wildcard Manuel Guinard in the first round and could meet Alcaraz in the fourth round.

Djokovic, the top seed and defending champion, will start his tournament against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. Nadal, who opens against Jordan Thompson of Australia, had been ranked inside the top four until a week ago when he lost in the last 16 of the Italian Open to Denis Shapovalov after suffering a flare-up of his chronic foot injury.

His defeat allowed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost the Rome final against Djokovic, to leapfrog him ias fourth seed, opening the door for Nadal, seeded fifth, to possibly be drawn in Djokovic’s quarter. After resting his foot in the days since Rome, Nadal has had multiple training sessions in recent days and he has been mobile throughout.

The bottom half of the men’s draw is headlined by Daniil Medvedev, the second seed, Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev. Dan Evans, the 29th seed, has drawn Francisco Cerundolo in round one.

Emma Raducanu practises on the Paris clay.
Emma Raducanu gets some practice on the Paris clay. Photograph: David Winter/Shutterstock

In the women’s draw, Iga Swiatek begins as the heaviest French Open favourite since the last years of Serena Williams’ dominance. Swiatek, the 2020 champion, arrives in Paris with a 28-match winning streak and will face a qualifier in the opening round. A potential fourth-round match against Simona Halep or Jelena Ostapenko, both former champions, looms in the distance.

Emma Raducanu, seeded 12th for her French Open debut, has been handed a decent draw as she looks to shake off her recent back injury. She will open her tournament against a qualifier and, should she win that, would then face either Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Xinyu Wang. The former No 1 Angelique Kerber, who is least comfortable on clay, is the highest seed in her section.

The most notable first round match of either draw is undoubtedly that between the unseeded Naomi Osaka and Amanda Anisimova, the 27th seed. Anisimova, a former prodigy who reached the 2019 French Open semi-final aged 17, defeated Osaka in the third round of the Australian Open this year. Osaka, meanwhile, arrives in Paris nursing an achilles injury that forced her to retire in Rome.

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