‘The death box’ at Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal, current champion in search of a 14th title on Parisian clay, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were in the same half of the Roland Garros box, according to the draw carried out this Thursday .
A match never before produced at a Grand Slam.
This configuration was made possible by the fact that Nadal, world number 3, is not located in the bottom corner of the table, while Djokovic, world number one and first seed, is at the top of the pairings. .
In this way, Nadal and Djokovic, finalists of the 2020 edition, could meet in the semifinals this year if the logic of the world classification prevailed. Federer, who has only played three games in the past 16 months, is the eighth seeded player.
In the other half of the table, the theoretical semi-final would face Russian Daniil Medvedev, who has yet to win a single match in his four appearances at Roland Garros, with Austrian Dominic Thiem (No. 4), double finalist on clay in the French capital in 2018 and 2019, but it does not reach this edition in its best form.
To summarize the imbalance between the two parts of the table, two figures should be highlighted: the first half alone brings together 59 Grand Slam titles -20 for Federer and Nadal, 18 for Djokovic and one for Marin Cilic -, while in the second only there is the only one from Dominic Thiem (US Open 2020).
Federer, who will soon be 40 years old and looking to return to the highest level after a double operation on his right knee in 2020, will make his first-round debut with a player from the rankings. If he reached the quarterfinals, he could face ‘Djoko’.
The Swiss, who shares the record of 20 Grand Slam titles with Nadal, has only played three games since his return to the circuit in early March; two in Doha and one in Geneva, the latter lost against Spaniard Pablo Andújar.
Djokovic, in search of a 19th ‘Big’, will debut against American Tennys Sandgren (66th), and Nadal against Australian Alexei Popyrin (62nd).
The second rival of ‘Nole’ could be the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas (91º) whenever he defeats the French Lucas Pouille (84º).
– Lucky Tsitsipas –
If a player had to be chosen to benefit, it would be Stefanos Tsitsipas, recent winner of his first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, who was about to beat Nadal in Barcelona and then Djokovic in Rome, in both scenarios on clay.
The 22-year-old Greek, No. 5 in the world and the most regular tennis player this year, is the favorite to reach the final.
Although Daniil Medvedev (N.2) and Dominic Thiem (N.4) have better ATP rankings, the Russian seems allergic to clay, and the Austrian, a two-time Roland Garros finalist (2018 and 2019), is looking for his best physical form and mental for months.
The draw was not benign with Nadal, who could face Jannik Sinner (19th) in the round of 16, the Russians Andrey Rublev (7th) or Aslan Karatsev (26th) in the quarterfinals, and Djokovic in the prelude to the final.
A Frenchman, Richard Gasquet or Hugo Gaston, would wait for him in the second round.
Also on the ‘hard’ side of the table is Argentine Diego Schwartzman (10th), who will start against Taiwanese Lu Yen-Hsun (679th).
– Barty-Swiatek in the semifinals? –
In the women’s draw, the world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, winner in 2019, the current champion Iga Swiatek (9th) and the Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza (winner in 2016) are in the same part of the table.
Barty and Swiatek could face each other in the semifinals, while the other semifinal could oppose Serena Williams (8th) and Naomi Osaka (3rd).
Before the semifinals, the Polish Swiatek could find herself on the road with Muguruza (13th in the world) in the round of 16, and with her rival in the 2020 final, Sofia Kenin (5th), in the quarterfinals.
Australian Barty, meanwhile, could face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina (6th) in the quarterfinals.
American Serena Williams, still in pursuit of a 24th Grand Slam title, could face the solid Aryna Sabalenka (4th) in the quarterfinals, a round in which Osaka could experience an exciting youth matchup against Bianca Andreescu (7th).
Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska (42nd), a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, will have a difficult debut against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic (11th). (GG) (AFP)