June 2019
2:22 AM IST
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Nadal, Federer set up potential semifinal at Roland Garros
Paris: The 11-time winner Rafael Nadal and Swiss great Roger Federer were slotted in the bottom half of men''s singles and could meet in the semifinals as the draw for French Open took place here on Thursday. Defending champion Nadal, fresh from his ninth Italian Open title last weekend, will see first two rounds in the French capital against qualifiers, and a possible third-round encounter with Belgian David Goffin looms ahead. The Spaniard can expect seventh-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori or the No. 12 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the last eight. Federer, in his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, will take on Italy''s Lorenzo Sonego in the opening round.

He has to overcome the Greek talent Stefanos Tsitsipas ahead of hightly-anticipated semifinal against Nadal, while the sixth seed should also beware Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic beforehand. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, in quest for rare four Grand Slam titles in a row across the year, meets Hubert Hurkacz of Poland before possibly facing American player Sam Querrey in the second round. Denis Shapovalov, Borna Coric, Fabio Fognini and Alexander Zverev will be the Serbian''s potential challenger in his quarter. Also placed in the top half, last year''s finalist Dominic Thiem possibly strive for the last four spot with Juan Martin del Potro. In the women''s category, Naomi Osaka targets at her third straight Grand Slam champion.

If things went well in the first round against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, the world No. 1 would embrace the challenge from either the 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko or former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. Serena Williams can pose as huge threat to Osaka in the quarterfinals, but the 23-time Grand Slam winner has just played one match on clay after last year''s tournament. The top half also featured the title holder Simona Halep, who might take on Petra Kvitova after making into the last eight. Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova can expect No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber as a potential quarterfinal opponent. American veteran Venus Williams and No. 9 seed Elina Svitolina will fight for a second round spot.

Both were drawn in the same quarter with Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens. The 16th-seeded Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai set up an all-Chinese clash in the first round. The winner would see Halep across the net if making her way to the last 16. Zhang Shuai kicks off her campaign against a qualifier, while Zhu Lin faces Romania''s Irina-Camelia Begu. Wang Yafan, the other Chinese player out of five, plays Marketa Vondrousova and would challenge Kerber if advanced. The 2019 French Open will start on Sunday until June 9.

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