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Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz all drawn in same half at Roland-Garros: everything you need to know about the men’s draw

Djokovic and Nadal are seeded to meet in the quarter-finals, while teenager Alcaraz could be waiting in the semis

Roland-Garros, court Philippe-Chatrier general view Roland-Garros, court Philippe-Chatrier general view © Chryslène Caillaud, Panoramic

The nightmare scenario has come true. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will all be in the same half of the draw for Roland-Garros, which begins on Sunday.

Defending champion Djokovic opens his title defence against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan and could face 13-time winner Nadal in the quarter-finals, while Alcaraz, the winner in Madrid, could be waiting in the semi-finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the runner-up to Djokovic last year, is in the bottom half of the draw alongside second seed Daniil Medvedev, avoiding the big three as he tries to win his first Grand Slam title.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Spain's Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2021

Djokovic could face Nadal in quarter-finals

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have met each other in the quarter-finals of a tournament only three times (Djokovic leads 2-1) while in a Grand Slam it’s happened just once, at Roland-Garros in 2015, when Djokovic ran out a straight-sets winner.

The pair could meet again in the last eight but they won’t be the only blockbuster match, with 19-year-old sensation and No 6 seed Carlos Alcaraz seeded to face Alexander Zverev (3), second seed Daniil Medvedev scheduled to meet Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas lined up to meet Casper Ruud.

With Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz and Zverev all in the top half, Tsitsipas is perhaps the big winner of Thursday’s draw. The Greek reached his first slam final in Paris last year and was a set away from winning, before Djokovic recovered to deny him.

Djokovic 2021 French Open

Djokovic’s projected path to the title

World No 1 Djokovic will start against Nishioka, the world No 94 and a man he’s beaten in both their two previous meetings. Then it could be a meeting with Alex Molcan, the Slovakian now coached by Djokovic’s former coach, Marian Vajda.

American Jenson Brooksby and Diego Schwartzman could be in his path before Nadal in the quarter-finals, while Alcaraz or Zverev and then Tsitsipas, Zverev or Medvedev are likely to be waiting in the final

R1: Nishioka
R2: Molcan or Coria
R3: Brooksby
R4: Schwartzman or Dimitrov
QF: Nadal or Auger-Aliassime
SF: Alcaraz or Zverev
F: Medvedev or Tsitsipas

Novak Djokovic Rome QF 2022
AI/Reuters/Panoramic
Rafael Nadal

Nadal’s projected path to the title

If Rafael Nadal is to win his record 14th Roland-Garros title, he’s going to have to do it the hard way, if the seedings go to plan. Not only is he battling the foot injury that flared up in Rome, he has some very testing matches, even before he gets to a likely quarter-final against Djokovic.

First up is Jordan Thompson, the world No 82 from Australia and then he could face former champion Stan Wawrinka in round two, the 37-year-old making his way back from injury.

Fabio Fognini could be waiting in round three and then Felix Auger-Aliassime is his seed in the last 16. Then it would be Djokovic, Alcaraz or Zverev and finally Tsitsipas or Medvedev.

R1: Thompson
R2: Wawrinka or Moutet
R3: Fognini/Van de Zandschulp
R4: Auger Aliassime/Opelka
QF: Djokovic
SF: Alcaraz/Zverev
F: Medvedev/Tsitsipas

Rafael Nadal Rome R2 2022
Inside / Panoramic
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Roland-Garros, 2019

First-round matches we can’t wait to see

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Casper Ruud

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga waves goodbye to tennis after this year’s Roland-Garros and the chances are that it will come after just one round after he was drawn to face eighth seed Casper Ruud. But Tsonga, who reached the semi-finals in Paris in 2013 and 2015, will doubtless thrill the crowd one more time as he lugs his aching body around the court in search of glory.

Denis Shapovalov v Holger Rune

Shapovalov beat Rafael Nadal in Rome when the Spaniard’s foot pain became too tough to handle and on his day, he’s a world-beater, capable of great things on any surface. To date, there have been too many off days for him to hit the real heights but he’s becoming more consistent in slams. He’ll need to be on guard against Danish teenager Holger Rune, who won his first title recently in Munich and is inside the top 40 already.

Stefanos Tsitsipas v Lorenzo Musetti

Tsitsipas got the better of the draw in terms of the big guns but he’ll need to be watchful in round one when he takes on Musetti, the talented Italian who led Djokovic by two sets to love last year before fading physically.

Carlos Alcaraz Madrid 2022

Matches we hope to see in week one

Carlos Alcaraz v Sebastian Korda – R3

Korda was the last man to beat Alcaraz, in Monte-Carlo, and the young American has already shown that he has a game and a head for all surfaces. His big serve will cause some damage and Alcaraz will know that he may need to knuckle down for a fight.

Novak Djokovic v Alex Molcan – R2

Not because it’s a match that Djokovic might find tough on the court but because it will be fascinating to see what’s happening off the court. That’s because Marian Vajda, the long-time coach of the world No 1, is now coaching Molcan.

Rafael Nadal v Stan Wawrinka – R2

If Wawrinka can get himself through his first-round match, a meeting with Nadal would be a reminder of the kind of heavyweight battles these two played a few years ago, when the Swiss was in his pomp. Nadal’s still in his, of course, so it’s a big ask, but Wawrinka would love the chance.

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