New Straits Times - - Sport -

Agassi and Djokovic prac­ticed for the first time at Roland Gar­ros on Thurs­day but the Amer­i­can loss of just one game in the Rome Mas­ters semi-fi­nals last week.

The 30-year-old Nadal has al­ready reached the mag­i­cal 10 ti­tles num­ber this year at the clay­court events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

For good mea­sure, he also won Madrid for a fifth time, end­ing a seven-match los­ing streak, stretch­ing back over two years against Djokovic in the process.

Nadal boasts a sen­sa­tional ca­reer record at Roland Gar­ros — 72 wins and just two de­feats, to Djokovic in 2015 and an in­juryaf­fected shock loss to Robin Soder­ling in 2009.

On clay this year, Djokovic has been on an up­ward curve — quar­ter-fi­nals in Monte Carlo, semi­fi­nals in Madrid and a run­ners-up spot in Rome where he was com­pre­hen­sively de­mol­ished by Alexan­der Zverev.

“It was one of my last dreams in in­sisted that he was not in the mar­ket for a full-time job.

“The only agree­ment we have is terms of tour­na­ments that I wanted to win here,” said Djokovic.

“It was miss­ing from my list so I ticked it off and got the full set of Grand Slams.”

Mur­ray has en­dured a wretched sea­son by his stan­dards with an el­bow in­jury not help­ing his cause.

He lost in the third round in Monte Carlo, made the semis in Barcelona, was a third-round loser in Madrid be­fore an open­ing de­feat in Rome to Fabio Fognini.

Zverev faces Span­ish vet­eran Fernando Ver­dasco first up, Thiem tack­les Bernard Tomic of Aus­tralia while fel­low ‘Nex­tGen’ star Nick Kyr­gios faces Philipp Kohlschreiber of Ger­many.

Nishikori, yet to get past the quar­ter-fi­nals in Paris, be­gins against 21-year-old Aus­tralian Thanasi Kokki­nakis. for Paris, and given our dis­cus­sions, it’s not a full-time job for me,” he added. AFP

In the women’s draw, top seed An­gelique Ker­ber starts against ex­pe­ri­enced Rus­sian Eka­te­rina Makarova in the first round.

An­gelique is due to face de­fend­ing cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza of Spain in the semi­fi­nals.

“I am su­per-ex­cited to be here. I am pre­par­ing the best I can but there is no magic pat­tern,” said Gar­bine who comes into the tour­na­ment hav­ing suf­fered a neck in­jury in Rome last week.

Gar­bine has a tough opener against for­mer cham­pion Francesca Schi­avone.

Sec­ond seed Karolina Pliskova was drawn to face 2014 run­nerup Si­mona Halep in the semi-fi­nals but will start against Zheng Sai­sai of China.

Si­mona has an an­kle in­jury and de­scribed her chances of mak­ing Roland Gar­ros as “50-50” ear­lier this week.

The women’s event is re­garded as be­ing wide open with Ser­ena Wil­liams, Maria Shara­pova and Vic­to­ria Azarenka all ab­sent.

If the seed­ings works out, An­gelique will face for­mer cham­pion Svet­lana Kuznetsova in the last eight with Gar­bine against Do­minika Cibulkova.

Elina Svi­tolina would face Si­mona, who she de­feated in the Rome fi­nal, while Bri­tain’s Jo­hanna Konta would be Karolina’s last-eight ri­val. AFP


No­vak Djokovic (right) talks with his new coach An­dre Agassi dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion on Thurs­day ahead of the French Open.

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