Tennis-Men's 'Big Three' in same half of French Open draw


FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP Masters 1000 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 14, 2021 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Germany's Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

PARIS (Reuters) - Thirteen-time champion Rafael Nadal, 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic were placed in the same half of the French Open draw on Thursday.

The three most successful players in the history of the men's game have won 17 of the last 20 Grand Slam titles between them and Federer and Djokovic are on a quarter-final collision course.

Title holder Nadal, who starts against Australian Alexei Popyrin, could face Italian prospect Jannik Sinner, the 18th seed, in the fourth round a year after beating him in the quarter-finals.

In the other half of the draw, two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem's path leads to a potential quarter-final clash with German sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

In the women's draw, defending champion Iga Swiatek will start her campaign against Kaja Juvan while one of the matches to watch will feature last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin, the fourth seed, against 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Kenin could face Swiatek, who turns 20 on Monday, in the quarter-finals.

After missing last year's event, second seed Naomi Osaka will make her comeback against Maria Patricia Tig.

The Japanese player, who said she would not speak to the media throughout the tournament for mental health reasons, is in the other half of the draw.

She could take on American Serena Williams in the semi-finals with the seventh seed bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.

World number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia starts her campaign against American Bernarda Pera and faces a possible semi-final against Swiatek.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)

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