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“Big Three” Djokovic, Nadal, Federer in the same half of the draw of the French Open

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer found themselves in the same half of the French Open in the men’s draw on Thursday, which means no more than one of them can reach the final.

The Big Three topped the Grand Slam men’s singles titles: Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where the game kicks off on Sunday, a draw of 20 and Djokovic of 18.

Nadal beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final to extend his record 13th Red Clay Championship in Paris, but if they meet again this time, it will be in the semifinals. Nadal is ranked and placed at number 3 now and so could roll on both sides of the bracket; luckily, he was placed in Djokovic’s No. 1 half.

So was Federer, whose record for most weeks at the top of the ATP rankings was recently broken by Djokovic and is now in 8th place after playing just three games in the last 15 months due to two operations on his right knee. Federer can face Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

The other possible quarterfinals for men on their side are Nadal against No. 7 Andrei Rublev.

On the other side of the draw, the potential quarterfinals are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev against No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 4 Dominic Thiem against No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist, but is 0-4 for his career at the French Open. The team won last year’s US Open and is a two-time runner-up in Paris.

Serena Williams, who won three of her record-breaking 23 Grand Slam titles in Paris, is in a quarter of the women’s draw filled with celebrities.

This includes possible matches with three-time grand champion Angelique Kerber in the third round, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka or No. 3 Arina Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.

The other possible women’s quarterfinals are No. 1 Ash Barty vs. No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 4 Sofia Kenin vs. No. 8 Iga Swiatek in what would be a rematch of the 2020 final won by Swiatek, and No. 2 Naomi Osaka against No. 6 Bianca Andrescu.

The four-time grand champion Osaka announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he would not hold press conferences during the French Open.

A year after retiring from Roland Garros before the second round due to an injured Achilles, Williams will face 74th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania to get things started. They met once before: On the red clay in Rome in 2016, the year Begu reached the fourth lap in Paris for the deepest run of the French Open in his career.

Other first-round matches of interest include Swiatek against Kaja Juvan, a 20-year-old from Slovenia who beat Kerber in the first round in Paris last year; Azarenka against another holder of two major trophies, Svetlana Kuznetsova; and Kenin, last year’s Australian Open champion, against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

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