PARIS: Top-seed Novak Djokovic and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal were set on a French Open semi-final collision course yesterday, condemning one of the sport’s superstars to certain defeat before the final.
The world number one Serb and the third-seed Spaniard were placed in the same half of the draw, leaving Roger Federer, the second seed, to remain untroubled by either of his two great rivals until the final.
Djokovic, the runner-up to Nadal last year and who still needs a French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, starts against Belgium’s David Goffin, who made the last-16 in 2012 after coming through qualifying.
Federer, the 2009 champion who is chasing an 18th major, starts his campaign against a qualifier, while Nadal begins against Germany’s Daniel Brands.
Nadal, going after an unprecedented eighth French Open title, was seeded three after missing seven months through injury.
But he has been in great form since his return, winning six titles from eight finals.
“I am happy to be here at Roland Garros, it’s one of the tournaments that I did not want to miss,” said Nadal. “I love this place.”
In the women’s event, top-seed Serena Williams, the champion in 2002 and the overwhelming favourite for the title, starts against Ana Tatishvili of Belarus. Defending champion Sharapova, the second seed, tackles Taiwan’s Heish Su-Wei while third-seeded Victoria Azarenka starts against Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
The French Open begins tomorrow.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2013.
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