Tennis: Defending French Open champ Nadal drawn to meet world No. 1 Djokovic in semis

PARIS (AFP) - Top seed Novak Djokovic and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal were set on a French Open semi-final collision course on Friday, condemning one of the sport's superstars to certain defeat before the final.

The world No. 1 Serb and the third-ranked Spaniard were placed in the same half of the draw, leaving Roger Federer, the second seed, to remain untroubled by either of his two great rivals until the final.

Djokovic, runner-up to Nadal last year, still needs a French Open to complete a career Grand Slam. He begins his title bid against Belgium's David Goffin.

Federer, the 2009 champion who is chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, starts his campaign against a qualifier while Nadal begins against Germany's Daniel Brands.

Nadal, going after an unprecedented eighth French Open title, was seeded third after missing seven months through injury.

He has been in great form since his return in February, winning six titles from eight finals. One of those final losses, however, was to Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters.

In the women's singles, top seed Serena Williams, the overwhelming favourite for the title, starts against Ana Tatishvili of Belarus.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova, the second seed, tackles Taiwan's Heish Su-wei. Third seeded Victoria Azarenka, who is scheduled to face Sharapova in the semi-finals, starts against Russia's Elena Vesnina.

Williams, 31, has won her last four tournaments at Miami, Charleston, Madrid and Rome, her best ever run of form.