Djokovic and Nadal could meet in French Open semifinals

Saturday, 27 May, 2017

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will play Spain's Marcel Granollers in the opening round while nine-time victor Rafael Nadal, who has been in fantastic form lately, will face home favourite Benoit Paire.

Now a youthful 52, Wilander chuckles when he thinks of the difficulties facing players in Paris, where the second Grand Slam of the year starts on Sunday.

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

Djokovic has been struggling of late on top of that, while Nadal has won 17 consecutive matches on the clay.

"Rafa, playing on his favourite surface, won three tournaments in a row this year, and [he is] playing confidently and much better than he was actually playing last year", said Djokovic.

"I mean, their level of tennis that they have performed is quite fantastic". He's not exactly coming in as a 1 to 4 favorite (implies an 80% chance of winning) against the field of 127 other players like he did in 2009 (incidentally, a year where he lost the event).

"I'm ranked number one in the world, so there are worse positions to be in". Federer, 35, made a decision to skip the entire clay-court season to prepare for grass at Wimbledon.

The 30-year-old, beaten in the final in Paris last year as Djokovic completed a career Grand Slam, has only claimed one ATP title this year.

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A year ago, the Spaniard appeared to be rounding into form in Paris when he was forced to withdraw in the third round with a left wrist injury - the source of power for his vicious, whirling southpaw forehand that is so hard to counter on clay. He got shingles, and all of a sudden he was back on antibiotics leading up to French Open.

The draw leads Murray towards a possible quarter-final with Kei Nishikori, who ended the Scot's winning run at the US Open past year.

Djokovic also mentioned that Agassi inspires him a lot, and expects that their new relationship will bring him success on the pitch. "It brings back memories from past year", Djokovic said at the draw ceremony.

With three titles this season and just one defeat on clay, the Spaniard, who turns 31 on June 3, tells CNN his preparations for Roland Garros have been "perfect".

Murray, who opens his Roland Garros campaign against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov and faces a potential third-round clash with either claycourt specialist Nicolas Almagro or Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, has struggled this year.

It feels like now or never for a new Grand Slam champion, with no Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka in the draw.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza was handed a tricky first round as she will take on the 2010 champion, Italian Francesca Schiavone. Simona Halep, the runner-up in 2014 and maybe the best current player without a major trophy, has been playing well on clay, but she tore a ligament in her right ankle recently. Roger Federer had of course chose to pull out of the tournament.

"I was the first British player to win Wimbledon for such a long time".