Well, here’s a new one for the Big Three of men’s tennis: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer found themselves in the same half of the field at Roland Garros.
Thursday’s draw in Paris marks the first time in their long and distinguished careers that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all been on one side of the support in a Grand Slam tournament, according to the International Tennis Federation.
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This means that no more than one of them can reach the final at Roland Garros, where the game begins on Sunday. The trio top the table for major men’s singles tennis titles: Federer and Nadal are tied at 20, while Djokovic is 18. No one else is over 14.
Nadal beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final for his record 13th championship on the red clay at Roland Garros, but if they meet again this time, it would have to be in the semi-finals.
Djokovic is the No.1 seed, and Nadal is the No.3 seed – the seeds adhere strictly to the ATP rankings, so the Spaniard’s unprecedented previous success in Paris is irrelevant.
The only certainties before the draw were that Djokovic would be on one side and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on the other; Nadal and No.4 Dominic Thiem were placed at random and could have appeared in either half.
Federer, whose most weeks record at No.1 in the ATP table was recently broken by Djokovic, is currently No.8 after playing. only three games in the last 15 months because of two operations on his right knee.
Federer could meet Djokovic in the quarter-finals. The other possible men’s quarter-finals on their side are Nadal against No.7 Andrey Rublev. The potential quarter-finals on the other side are Medvedev against No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Thiem against No.6 Alexander Zverev.
Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist but has a 0-4 record for his career at Roland Garros. Thiem won the US Open last year and was a two-time finalist in Paris.
Serena Williams, who won three of her 23 Grand Slam titles in Paris, her professional record, is in a quarter of the women’s draw filled with familiar faces.
This includes possible clashes with three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the third round, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth, and then either two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka or No.3 seed Aryna. Sabalenka in the quarter-finals.
Other possible women’s quarter-finals: 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 against n ° 6 Bianca Andreesscu.
The four-time major Osaka champion announced on Twitter on Wednesday that she wouldn’t do press conferences during the French Open.
A year after retiring from Roland Garros ahead of the second round due to an injured left Achilles, Williams will face 74th Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania to start things off. They have met once before, with winning Williams, on clay in Rome in 2016, the year Begu reached the fourth round in Paris for the deepest Roland Garros race of his career.
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Other first-round matches included Swiatek against Kaja Juvan, a 20-year-old Slovenian 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 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Nadal and Swiatek are favorites to win singles titles, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.