It draws up pretty tough for Raonic at French Open

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

It won’t be easy for Canada’s Mi­los Raonic if he makes it through the first few rounds of the French Open.

The fifth seed from Thorn­hill could po­ten­tially meet Grigor Dim­itrov in the round of 16 and may face Rafael Nadal in the quar­ter-fi­nals. Raonic, who’s in the bot­tom of the draw in the same half as de­fend­ing cham­pion No­vak Djokovic, will open against world No. 38 Steve Dar­cis of Bel­gium.

Raonic reached the fourth round at Roland Gar­ros last year be­fore fall­ing to Spain’s Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las.

There are two Cana­di­ans en­tered in women’s sin­gles play. Eu­ge­nie Bouchard of West­mount, Que., is set to open against No. 72 Risa Ozaki of Ja­pan, while Mon­treal’s Fran­coise Abanda qual­i­fied for the main draw Fri­day with a 6-3, 6-2 vic­tory over Su Jeong Jang of South Korea.

It’s un­clear if the 56th-ranked Bouchard will be able to play as she suf­fered an an­kle in­jury at this week’s Nuremberg Cup. Abanda, the world No. 191, will open against No. 264 Tes­sah An­dri­an­jafit­rimo of France.

Nadal, mean­while, is back in top form as he starts his quest for a 10th French Open ti­tle.

The 14-time Grand Slam cham­pion — seeded fourth this year — will need to deal with the tal­ented and un­pre­dictable Benoit Paire in the first round.

“I know I need to be ready since the be­gin­ning, be­cause I have a tough op­po­nent in the first round,” Nadal said. “So I am fo­cused on try­ing to work the right way.”

The 30-year-old Nadal, who re­tired last year be­fore his third round match with a wrist in­jury, has a 72-2 record at the clay-court ma­jor and is the only player with nine tro­phies from one Grand Slam tour­na­ment. This sea­son, he has been the dom­i­nant player on clay, win­ning 17 straight matches on his favourite sur­face and three con­sec­u­tive ti­tles be­fore Thiem halted his run in Rome last week.

In Paris, he could face Djokovic or Thiem in the semi­fi­nals.

Roger Fed­erer, who won the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary, is skip­ping Roland Gar­ros, fo­cus­ing in­stead on the grass and hard court events.

The top-ranked Mur­ray, who will open against An­drey Kuznetsov, was drawn in the same half as third-seeded and 2015 cham­pion Stan Wawrinka.

In the ab­sence of Ser­ena Wil­liams and Maria Shara­pova, the women’s draw is look­ing wide open this year. An in­trigu­ing first round match-up will put de­fend­ing cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza against 2010 cham­pion Francesca Schi­avone, while top-ranked An­gelique Ker­ber will take on 40th-ranked Eka­te­rina Makarova.

Among the other favourites, third-seeded Si­mona Halep will be up against Jana Ce­pelova in the first round if her right an­kle in­jury does not pre­vent her from play­ing.

Wil­liams is not play­ing be­cause she is preg­nant.

Play be­gins on Sun­day.

ALESSANDRA TARANTINO, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mi­los Raonic faces a tough road to the fi­nal of the French Open.

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