FRENCH OPEN TThhee
Djokovic faces tough title route at Roland Garros THE DARK HORSE AMID DJOKOVIC, NADAL FURORE
PARIS — Novak Djokovic’s route to a maiden title at Roland Garros and the world number one ranking could be a hazardous one following yesterday’s draw for the French Open which starts tomorrow.
The Serbian second seed, unbeaten in 37 matches this season, is favourite to face five-times champion and top seed Rafael Nadal in the final on June 5, but will have to keep his guard up if he is to reach a showdown with the king of clay.
Following a first-round match against the talented Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker, Djokovic — who has beaten Nadal in four finals this season, including two on clay in Madrid and Rome — could face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and France’s Richard Gasquet, the 13th seed, in the fourth.
Nadal, whose only loss at Roland Garros came in 2009 when he slumped to a fourth-round defeat by Robin Soderling, will start his campaign against American John Isner and could play Swede Soderling in the quarter-finals.
World number three Federer, who has managed just one title this year in Doha, will take nothing for granted in a high-risk first round encounter against Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
In the women’s draw, world number one Caroline Wozniacki, chasing her first grand slam title, will take on Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Seventh seed Maria Sharapova could play former world number one and second seed Kim Clijsters in the last eight.
Holder Francesca Schiavone, of Italy, seeded fifth, is projected to face Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round before a possible quarter-final against third seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia.
— Reuters. PARIS — Roger Federer believes the pressure on Rafael Nadal to win a record-equalling sixth French Open, and on Novak Djokovic to extend his undefeated run, could play into his hands at Roland Garros.
Federer, a 16-time major winner, who won his only French Open in 2009 to complete a career Grand Slam, has slipped into Roland Garros quietly and without the traditional fuss.
“I think this year, maybe they expect more from Rafa and Novak, and that could be a good thing for me and more pressure for them,” said Federer.
The Swiss, who could face Djokovic in the semi-finals, is happy that his 2009 triumph here — helped by Nadal’s sensational early exit at the hands of Robin Soderling — lifted one of his great professional burdens.
“I have never been the overwhelming favourite going into the French Open because of Rafa’s great record here over the years,” he said. “The year before, and the years before that, I was trying to win Paris for the first time. So I’ve always had that big cloud hanging over, and the ‘am I ever gonna win the French Open’ question.”
Federer defeated Soderling in the 2009 final before the bighitting Swede gained his revenge by dumping the Swiss out in the quarter-finals in 2010.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, pictured here at a Roland Garros training session yesterday, has been handed a difficult route to the final in this year’s French Open, which begins tomorrow.