ATP Tour

Djokovic, Nadal, Alcaraz in same half of French Open draw

Carlos Alcaraz. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Carlos Alcaraz. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Defending champion Novak Djokovic, 13-time winner Rafael Nadal and new teenage star Carlos Alcaraz were drawn in the same half of the French Open on Thursday.

World number one Djokovic and Nadal, ranked five, are seeded to meet as early as the quarter-finals.

Alcaraz, 19, is bidding to become just the eighth teenager to win a Grand Slam men's title.

He could face either Djokovic or Nadal, who holds a record 21 majors, in the semi-finals in a top-heavy draw for the second Grand Slam of the season.

"I am very motivated to play my best tennis," said two-time French Open champion and 20-time major winner Djokovic.

"In Paris, I always play very strong. Last year, it was the toughest major that I had won."

Djokovic had to twice come from two sets down last year to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the last-16 and Stefanos Tsitspas in the final having also beaten Nadal from a set behind in a bruising semi-final.

"Musetti, Rafa, Tsitsipas -- every match lasted more than three hours, a lot of sets. It was exhausting but I loved the outcome."

Djokovic, who celebrates his 35th birthday on Sunday, the opening day at Roland Garros, faces 94th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the first round.

Nadal starts against Australia's Jordan Thompson as he looks to extend his French Open record of only three defeats in 108 matches at the tournament since his title-winning debut in 2005.

Alcaraz, who has a season-leading four titles in 2022 including Masters crowns in Miami and Madrid as well as Rio and Barcelona, begins against a qualifier.

The teenager knocked out Djokovic and Nadal on his way to victory in the Spanish capital.

Second seed Daniil Medvedev, the US Open champion, faces Argentina's Facundo Bagnis in his first round.

Third-ranked Alexander Zverev meets a qualifier while Tsitsipas has a tough opener against Musetti.

In the women's draw, world number one Iga Swiatek, the 2020 champion, is on a 28-match win streak and has pocketed five successive titles this season.

The 20-year-old Pole begins against a qualifier while second seed and defending champion Barbora Krejcikova faces France's Diane Parry.

Four-time major winner Naomi Osaka, a former world number one but now down at 38, returns to Paris 12 months after she pulled out ahead of the second round, citing mental health issues.

She had also been threatened with expulsion and fined by organisers over her refusal to attend press conferences.

The 24-year-old, the world's highest-earning sportswoman, faces American 27th seed Amanda Anisimova, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2019.

Anisimova knocked Osaka out of the Australian Open in the third round this year.

Third seed Paula Badosa of Spain begins against France's Fiona Ferro while fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari also has a French opponent in Clara Burel.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, seeded six and the champion on clay in Madrid last month, takes on Magda Linette of Poland in her first round clash.

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