French Open: Nadal, Federer in same half; Djokovic with Zverev, Thiem

Federer Nadal ISLRafael Nadal will begin his quest for a 12th Roland Garros title against a qualifier, but may need to beat 2009 winner Roger Federer or Stefanos Tsitsipas if he is to advance to his 26th Grand Slam championship final. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2016 champion, features in the top half of the draw with Alexander Zverev, last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem and two-time former semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal, who has an incredible 86-2 match record at the clay-court major, arrives in the French capital on the back of lifting a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown and ninth Internazionali BNL d'Italia title. The Spanish superstar is projected to face former World No. 8 David Goffin in the third round, and No. 15 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili – who competes this week in the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon semi-finals – in the Last 16.

Seventh seed Kei Nishikori, who opens against French wild card Quentin Halys, or Russian No. 12 seed Daniil Medvedev – with 25 match wins in 2019 – may then lie in wait in the quarter-finals. Nadal, a 17-time major champion, has suffered just two losses in 88 matches at the clay-court Grand Slam championship – to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

Djokovic came into last year’s tournament at No. 22 in the ATP Rankings. Now, riding high in his 252nd week at No. 1, the 32-year-old Serbian faces Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the first round, with Croatian No. 13 seed Borna Coric or No. 20 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada potential Last 16 foes.

Third seed and 20-time major winner Federer, who became the sixth of eight men in tennis history to complete the career Grand Slam in 2009 with the Roland Garros trophy, competes at the major for the first time since 2015.