Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and defending champion, will have his work cut out for him at the French Open, which begins on May 22. The Serb could face 13-time Roland Garros winner Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, with the Spaniard drawn in the same quarter as the Serb.
In addition, as the sixth seed, talented Spanish player Carlos Alcaraz joins the two stalwarts in the top half and could face Djokovic or Nadal in the semifinals. Alcaraz, who will be competing in his second clay-court Grand Slam, has been drawn in the quarter of third seed, Germany’s Alexander Zverev.
On the bottom line, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev anchors the draw, with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the third quarter alongside eighth seed Casper Ruud of Norway. According to atptour.com, Russia’s Andrey Rublev, seeded seventh, could be Medvedev’s quarterfinal opponent.
Djokovic expressed his delight at the full return of fans to the second major of the year during the draw ceremony.
“It’s amazing to see the amount of people that came this week during the qualifying week and also at the practice sessions,” the Serb was quoted as saying by atptour.com.
“A lot of people on the centre court and on Court Suzanne Leglen as well. It’s fantastic to see that because you can see how much they miss tennis, how much they are passionate and how much they love this sport. And of course for us players, it’s an incredible feeling to have the crowd.
“Particularly for me at this stage of my career, they are one of the main factors of why I still play professional tennis and why I compete. The energy that you get from the crowd, the excitement is something very important for us.”
Djokovic will face Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round and could face Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman or Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.
Nadal will face Australian Jordan Thompson in the first round, with Swiss player Stan Wawrinka looming as a potential second-round opponent. The Spaniard could face ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and 17th seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the fourth round.
Both Alcaraz and Zverev begin against qualifiers, with Austria’s unseeded Dominic Thiem a dangerous floater in the second round. Thiem will face Hugo Dellien of Bolivia in the first round, with the winner going on to face Russia’s 21st seed Karen Khachanov or a qualifier in the second round.
Three of the draw’s more intriguing first-round matchups are featured in the third quarter. Tsitsipas will face Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while 14th seed Denis Shapovalov will face Dane Martin. Holger Rune of Denmark and Casper Ruud of Norway face off against wild card Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is set to retire after Roland Garros.
In the first round, Medvedev will face Facundo Bagnis of Argentina, while Rublev will face Soonwoo Kwon of Korea. In the fourth quarter, 11th seed Jannik Sinner of Italy will play a qualifier in the first round, while 16th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain will face home favourite Gilles Simon in the Frenchman’s final Roland Garros before retiring at the end of the year.
(Inputs from IANS)