Paris, France (Sports Network) - Rafael Nadal's quest for an eighth French
Open title could include a semifinal matchup with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The draw for the second Grand Slam event of 2013 was revealed Friday and a
third-seeded Nadal was placed in the top half with the top-seeded Djokovic.
The two met in last year's final on the storied red clay of Roland Garros and
Nadal came away with a four-set win for his third straight French Open crown
and seventh in the past eight years.
Nadal has lost just once in the French capital. The super Spaniard was
battling a knee issue when he fell to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of
the 2009 event. Soderling went on to lose to Roger Federer in the final,
giving the Swiss superstar his only French Open title and the career Grand
Federer, who has yet to win a title of any kind in 2013, is the second seed
this year and is in the bottom half of the draw. He'll face a qualifier in the
first round and, if he wins his opener, another qualifier in the second round.
It would get tougher from there for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, as a host
of Frenchmen could await. He could face Julien Benneteau in the third round,
15th-seeded Gilles Simon in the fourth and sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in
David Ferrer is the next best seed in the bottom half. The Spaniard is seeded
fourth this year, thanks in part to the absence of an injured Andy Murray, and
last year had his best finish at the French with a semifinal run. He'll open
with Australia's Marinko Matosevic.
Tomas Berdych is also in the bottom half, but the fifth-seeded Czech may have
the toughest first-round match of any of the top players. He'll battle
Frenchman Gael Monfils, whose best career Grand Slam finish was a semifinal
result at the 2008 French.
Nadal, meanwhile, is once again the clear-cut favorite. In addition to his
unprecedented success at Roland Garros, he has reached the final in each of
his eight events this year with six titles. The 11-time Grand Slam champ
didn't start his season until February after recovering from a knee injury
that kept him sidelined for seven months, but has won his last three
tournaments -- all on clay -- at Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.
The last player to beat Nadal, however, was Djokovic -- and on clay no less --
for the title at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Djokovic needs only a French title to complete a career Grand Slam. He reached
the final for the first time last year and won this season's first major --
taking the Australian Open championship for the third consecutive year.
The Serb also won in Dubai, but did not fare well after beating Nadal in Monte
Carlo, suffering a loss to Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match at Madrid and
falling to Berdych in the Rome quarters.
Up first for Djokovic next week will be Belgium's David Goffin, while Dimitrov
could await in the third round. Fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, the eighth seed,
could be a quarterfinal opponent.
Nadal doesn't appear to have much resistance early. He will open with German
Daniel Brands and could face either American Michael Russell or Slovakia's
Martin Klizan in the second round. Potential fourth-round foes could include
rising Frenchman Benoit Paire or Japan's Kei Nishikori, while quarterfinal
opponents could be seventh-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet or ninth-seeded
Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Play begins Sunday and runs through June 9.
The Sports Network