Novak-Nadal semi in Paris?

From top: Romania's Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.
(Above) Romania's Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
From top: Romania's Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.
Romania's Simona Halep, (above) Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
From top: Romania's Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.
Romania's Simona Halep, Spain's Garbine Muguruza and American Sloane Stephens (above) are all tipped to impress at Roland Garros. The French Open begins tomorrow.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Spaniard may face Serb in French Open last four after Federer's withdrawal

PARIS • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and nine-time champion Rafael Nadal have been seeded to meet in the French Open semi-finals after the draw was made yesterday.

Djokovic needs a Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam after losing three finals in four years, including last year to Stan Wawrinka.

Third seed Wawrinka is scheduled to take on second seed Andy Murray in the other semi-final.

Top seed Djokovic, bidding for a 12th career Major, starts his campaign against Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun, the world No. 110 who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2010.

The Serb is seeded to face Tomas Berdych in the last eight.

Nadal, who lost to Djokovic in the quarter-finals last year, was set to become the fifth seed until 2009 champion Roger Federer withdrew through injury on Thursday.

The Spanish fourth seed starts his French Open against big-serving Sam Groth of Australia with a potential quarter-final against home hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

  • Three women who could surprise

  • With Angelique Kerber emerging as a first-time Major winner at the Australian Open, and nine different champions from 11 Women's Tennis Association Premier events this year, The Straits Times looks at three players who could win their maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open.

  • GARBINE MUGURUZA (ESP)
    Age:
    22
    World ranking: 4
    Best showing at Roland Garros: Q-final (2014-15)

    The French Open was where Muguruza enjoyed her breakout win, defeating Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round in 2014.

    She continued to signal her potential with her first two career titles last year. The Spaniard is finding her form ahead of Roland Garros. She reached the semi-final of the Italian Open this month.

  • SIMONA HALEP (ROM)
    Age:
    24
    World ranking: 6
    Best showing at Roland Garros: Final (2014)

    Halep loves to play on clay, where her movement and shot-making make her a real threat. The French Open junior champion was a set away from winning the senior title in 2014 before losing to Maria Sharapova.

    Halep's only title this year was secured on the dirt in Madrid this month.

  • SLOANE STEPHENS (USA)
    Age:
    23
    World ranking: 21
    Best showing at Roland Garros: 4th round (2012-15)

    Stephens is enjoying the best year of her burgeoning career with three titles this season.

    The American did not drop a set till the fourth round of last year's French Open, where she fell 6-1, 5-7, 3-6 to eventual champion Williams.

Murray, fresh from beating Djokovic in the Rome Masters final last week, will play a qualifier in the first round with a potential quarter-final against Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Wawrinka opens against Lukas Rosol, the Czech who shocked Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012, while his potential last-eight rival would be Canada's Milos Raonic.

Earlier, France's Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw from the competition because of a viral infection.

The world No. 14's agent said yesterday that the 29-year-old had been "weakened and hospitalised in recent days". He becomes the second top-20 player to pull out of the tournament after Federer.

In the women's draw, defending champion and top seed Serena Williams, bidding for a fourth Paris title and 22nd Grand Slam crown, starts against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova, the world No. 76. The 27-year-old Slovak has never made it beyond the second round in Paris.

Williams, 34, could face 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy in the third round.

Former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka is a potential quarter-final foe for the American.

Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska is scheduled to face 2014 runner-up Simona Halep in the last eight. Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, the third seed, is lined up for a last-eight duel with last year's semi-finalist Timea Bacsinszky.

Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza and US Open runner-up Roberta Vinci is the other potential quarter-final if seedings go to plan.

Two-time champion Maria Sharapova, serving a suspension, and the injured Caroline Wozniacki are absent this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Novak-Nadal semi in Paris?'. Print Edition | Subscribe