Nadal to play Zverev, Swiatek faces qualifier at French Open

PARIS   -    Rafa Nadal was handed a tough start to what is expected to be his farewell to the French Open as the record 14-times champion was drawn against fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the first round. Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a 25th Grand Slam crown against local hope Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while top-ranked Iga Swiatek kicks off her French Open title defence against a qualifier, after the draw was made on Thursday. Unseeded Nadal, who missed his favourite Grand Slam tournament due to injury last year, has plummeted down the rankings during an extended spell on the sidelines and has said he expects to retire after this season. The pairing drew an audible gasp in the room and the two will meet for the first time since their 2022 semi-final clash at Roland Garros which Nadal won after Zverev suffered an injury and retired. “It’s coming a little early in the tournament surely,” former world number one and tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said about the Nadal-Zverev pairing. “This is good news for neither of them.” Should Nadal win the match, he could face 2021 US Open winner Daniil Medvedev in the quarter finals. There were cheers from the audience when Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka was drawn against fellow three-time grand slam winner, Briton Andy Murray. “It’s a superb matchup,” Mauresmo, who used to coach Murray, said about the match with Wawrinka. Djokovic has struggled in the first half of 2024 and is yet to win a title this year.

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