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Nadal handed tough path to fifth French Open title

Latest update : 2009-05-25

World number one Rafael Nadal faces a treacherous task in his bid to win a fifth consecutive French Open title as he faces potential clashes with former world number one Lleyton Hewitt and Spanish compatriots David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco.

AFP - Rafael Nadal's path to a record fifth successive French Open title was littered with pitfalls Friday when he was handed potential clashes with Lleyton Hewitt as well as Spanish compatriots David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco.

Top seed Nadal will begin his campaign against a qualifier, but then could run straight into Australian former world number one Hewitt, who showed his claycourt ability in April when he won the Houston event.

Nadal beat Hewitt in the fourth round here in 2005 and 2006.

Claycourt specialist David Ferrer, twice a quarter-finalist, is a possible fourth round opponent with Verdasco, the eighth seed, a likely last eight rival.

Second seed Roger Federer, still searching for an elusive Roland Garros title to add to his 13 majors, starts against Spain's Alberto Montanes with old American rival Andy Roddick seeded to face him in the last eight.

Third seed Andy Murray renews his bitter rivalry with Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela in the first round, while fourth seed Novak Djokovic, a semi-finalist in the last two years, faces experienced Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador in his first match.

Women's top seed Dinara Safina of Russia, the runner-up here in 2008, faces Britain's Anne Keothavong in the first round with defending champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia tackling Italy's Sara Errani.

Second seed, and 2002 champion Serena Williams, faces the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova in the first round while sister Venus, the third seed, meets fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova, who has just returned from almost 10 months on the sidelines because of a shoulder injury, is unseeded and faces Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus.
 

Date created : 2009-05-22

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