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Nadal starts bid for 11th Roland Garros crown against Dolgopolov

media Rafael Nadal is seeking an 11th French Open title. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Rafael Nadal will start his quest for an 11th Roland Garros title against Alexandr Dolgopolov from Ukraine.

Following the draw for the second Grand Slam tournament of the season in Paris, the 31-year-old Spaniard said: “Everyone knows how important Roland Garros is in my career. I am very happy to be back here.”

Nadal, who is the top seed, and Dolgopolov have met nine times since 2010. Nadal has won seven of the encounters and all three of their matches on clay.

The 2017 women’s champion Jelena Ostapenko will test her mettle against Kateryna Kozlova from Ukraine.

Ostapenko, who beat Simona Halep to claim her first Grand Slam title, arrived in Paris on Wednesday to prepare for the defence of her crown.

“I got back and had a practice and I felt great,” said the 20-year-old.

The 2016 winner, Garbine Muguruza, has a daunting task in the opening round. She faces the 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova while a heavyweight clash is in prospect. Former world number ones and Roland Garros champions Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are drawn to meet in the last 16.

Williams, who won in 2002, 2013 and 2015, is unseeded after returning to the circuit following the birth of her first child in September 2017. Sharapova, a winner in 2012 and 2014, missed last year’s tournament as it came soon after her return from a ban for doping.

Two former men’s champions, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, are cajoling their skills out following injury lay-offs and have been seeded 20th and 23rd respectively.

Djokovic, who become only the eighth man to win titles at all four Grand Slam venues of Melbourne, Paris, London and New York when he claimed the 2016 French Open crown, will take on a qualifier.

Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, will play the unseeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Neither Djokovic nor Wawrinka are expected to reach the men's final on 10 June. Whoever lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires on that day will, like the women’s champion, pocket 2.2 million euros for their efforts over the fortnight.




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