Two fellow Spaniards who have already beaten him on his favourite clay surface could lie in wait for favourite and defending champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open. Friday’s draw, conducted by Nadal at Roland Garros, also handed women’s champion Serena Williams a tricky route.
Eight-time champion Nadal plays American Robbie Ginepri in round one but Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer are seeded to face him in the fourth round and the quarter-final respectively.
Almagro surprisingly beat Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open while Ferrer, who the Mallorcan beat in last year’s French Open final, knocked him out at the same stage at the Monte Carlo Masters.
“Last week in Rome was tough physically but sometimes you need these things. I played a bit better during the tournament,” Nadal said. Defeat by Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final meant Nadal has lost three matches on the European claycourt swing for the first time in a decade, raising doubts over his form.
Djokovic, chasing the only grand slam title missing from his collection, takes on Portuguese Joao Sousa in the first round en route to a possible semi-final showdown against former world number one Roger Federer.
Fourth seed Federer plays Slovakian Lukas Lacko in the first round while his fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, the third seed, faces a tough first round against plays Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round one.Wawrinka is seeded to meet Nadal in the semi-finals.
Federer, who won the title in 2009, believes there will be little room for surprises at this year’s tournament.
Somdev to open against Nedovyesov
PARIS: India’s número uno singles player Somdev Devvarman was Friday drawn against Ukraine’s Aleksander Nedovyesov in the French Open, starting Sunday. There is not much difference in the rankings of the two players as Somdev is placed just six places above Nedovyesov at 93. It will be the first meeting between the two players and the road ahead is tough for Somdev, for whom clay is not the favourite surface. If Somdev can manage to cross the first hurdle, he may run into sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who is pitted against a qualifier. In the doubles, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna will represent the Indian challenge while Leander Paes is set to skip the tournament. In the women’s doubles event, Sania Mirza will play alongside partner Cara Black from Zimbabwe. PTI