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Tomic Into Eighth Consecutive Roland Garros Main Draw

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Tomic Into Eighth Consecutive Roland Garros Main Draw

Three #NextGenATP players — Munar, Ruud & Taberner — to compete in first main draw in Paris

Bernard Tomic has played just one tour-level match this year, falling as low as No. 243 in the ATP Rankings. But that did not stop the Australian in Roland Garros qualifying.

The former World No. 17 defeated Goncalo Oliveira 7-6(5), 7-5 on Friday to advance to the main draw in Paris for the eighth consecutive year. The 25-year-old, a three-time ATP World Tour titlist, did not drop a set throughout qualifying, advancing with the loss of just 3.5 games per set on average. Tomic’s qualification sets the stage for an interesting first-round matchup against compatriot Nick Kyrgios. It will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting between the two talented Aussies.

Another former Top 20 player, 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis, also moved on. The Latvian will compete in the main draw for the 12th straight year after ousting Alessandro Giannessi 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

This will be Gulbis’ 40th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. The former World No. 10 seeks his first tour-level victory since the 2017 US Open, where he beat Giannessi in the first round before falling against eventual finalist Kevin Anderson. He will face No. 29 seed Gilles Muller in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Luxembourg’s star won their first encounter at the 2011 US Open.

Three #NextGenATP stars also advanced on Friday, with Norwegian Casper Ruud joining Spaniards Jaume Munar and Carlos Taberner in what will be the first Roland Garros main draw for all three players.

Rounding out the qualifiers on the terre battue are Guido Andreozzi, Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva, Santiago Giraldo, Martin Klizan, Jozef Kovalik and Elias Ymer.

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Can Five-Setters Prove A Boon For Djokovic At Roland Garros?

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Can Five-Setters Prove A Boon For Djokovic At Roland Garros?

According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Djokovic ranks second among active players in two key fifth-set categories

The Grand Slams provide a unique challenge for the ATP World Tour’s stars, as players compete in a best-of-five set format. And judging by historical success, one superstar has risen to that challenge exceedingly well, which may prove important during the Roland Garros fortnight.

Novak Djokovic is second among active players in both fifth-set win-rate (75.7%) and five-set victories (28-9) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone — the only other player in the Top 5 of both categories is Feliciano Lopez (68.6%, 24-11). Only Roger Federer, 30-20, has won more five-setters than Djokovic.

Most Five-Set Wins Among Active Players

Player  Five-Set Record
 Roger Federer  30-20
 Novak Djokovic  28-9
 Marin Cilic  27-13
 Stan Wawrinka  26-20
 Feliciano Lopez  24-11

In recent years, the former World No. 1 has been especially dominant when matches at the majors have gone the distance. Dating back to 2010 Wimbledon, the Serbian has won 19 of 23 five-setters, with 10 of those victories coming against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Just one of his previous nine five-set triumphs came against a Top 10 opponent.

So maybe, as Djokovic continues his recovery from a right elbow injury, he will be able to lean on the confidence he has gained from battling through tough matches at Grand Slams to climb back toward the top of the ATP Rankings, in which he currently sits at No. 22. Djokovic’s most recent five-setter was in Paris last year against Diego Schwartzman. Afterward, he explained the key to his victory.

“I was mentally still strong and as calm as I could be, even though I was two sets to one down,” Djokovic said. “I kept believing I could break his resistance.”

Best Fifth-Set Win-Rates Among Active Players

Player  Win-Rate Record
 Tommy Robredo  77.3%  17-5
 Novak Djokovic  75.7%  28-9
 Kei Nishikori  72.7%  16-6
 Tomas Berdych  72.4%  21-8
 Feliciano Lopez  68.6%  24-11

Djokovic has not been the only one to say that. Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who leads active players with a 77.3 per cent win-rate (17-5), agrees.

“You need to be very strong physically and I think one of my qualities is that physically I’m very good. Then mentally, you have to believe,” Robredo told “I think that’s because I’m strong physically, I can believe that I can do it a little bit better than others. Obviously there’s a bit of good luck, which helps. But when you’re 17-5, I think it’s more about the mental and physical [aspects].”

While Robredo did not qualify for Roland Garros this year, the terre battue is home of perhaps his most impressive streak. In 2013, he won back-to-back-to-back five-set matches from two sets down in the second round, third round and Round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the fifth time. He has won seven matches in his career from two sets down, which left him no room for error.

“To come back from two sets down, it’s important to be mentally strong, to believe that you still can. And then you have to see yourself as strong after winning the third set because you need to win two more,” Robredo said. “When you come back from two sets down to 2-1 down, the other player has to start thinking and then if you’re physically good, you have a chance.”

Besides Robredo and Djokovic, only two other active players have won more than 70 per cent of their five-setters — Kei Nishikori (72.7%, 16-6) and Tomas Berdych (72.4%, 21-8). Rounding out the Top 5 is Feliciano Lopez, who holds a 24-11 record (68.6%).

You May Also Like: Rafa Leads The Comeback Kings

And if the stats showing Djokovic’s prowess in these categories are not enough, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal shared his thoughts about the longer format at Grand Slams after defeating Alexander Zverev to claim his eighth Internazionali BNL d’Italia title last weekend.

“Tennis is tennis. It doesn’t matter best of three, best of five,” Nadal said. “[But] playing best of five is a big advantage for the best players.”

Could that be a key for Djokovic in the French capital?

Explore the FedEx ATP Performance Zone

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Nadal Looks To Fire Up From The Start

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Nadal Looks To Fire Up From The Start

Spanish star set to draw upon his experience in Paris

Rafael Nadal has been tested — by his body, as well as his opponents this year — in pressure situations and he arrives at Roland Garros full of confidence and seeking his 11th trophy at the clay-court major.

In spite of an outstanding 79-2 record on Parisian red dirt, the World No. 1 cannot define what makes May in the French capital so pleasing. “I’m not sure what it is about Roland Garros that brings out the best in me; but playing on clay, where I’ve had so much success, and also having to play best-of-five matches, all of that makes a difference.”

Set to face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round, the 31-year-old feel’s he’s physically in a good place, but is well aware he’ll need to be better than good if he’s to win his 17th Grand Slam championship trophy.

“I’m feeling good,” said Nadal, who had suffered from a right hip injury earlier in the year. “Of course, after a very tough start to the season with two injuries, I’ve managed to come back and play very well. I’ve played a lot of matches this season and have had good success. Every tournament is different, and here in Paris we’re trying to get in some solid practices so that I’m fit and ready for my first match. I want to be as competitive as I can be from the start.”

You May Also Like: Nadal v The Dog Among 5 Must-See First-Round Roland Garros Matches

The Spanish superstar has dominated the spring European clay swing, winning 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), in addition to his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown — and eighth — Internazionali BNL d’Italia last week (d. A. Zverev). With a 23-2 mark this year, he has compiled a 19-1 record on red dirt.

But it was his Madrid quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem, on 11 May, which snapped 21-match and 50 consecutive sets winning streaks on clay courts, in addition to battling wins over Fabio Fognini, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev at the Foro Italico in Rome, which have tested the mettle of the World No. 1.

“Everyone knows Madrid is the most difficult clay court event of the season,” Nadal explained. “Because of the high altitude, the balls tend to fly. I lost. After that, it was important for me to stay strong mentally and to focus on Rome.

“I think I played a good tournament in Rome, winning some important matches, and at the same time pushing through tough situations — situations that I didn’t have to endure at events leading up to this. I’ve had plenty of high-pressure moments, and I came back from a set down against Fognini. Then, I played a very tough first set against Novak in the semi-finals. The final had a little bit of everything. These situations help to keep me going and help me stay confident. It’s tennis; it’s normal to find yourself in difficult spots like I did [in Rome].”

After a one-week hiatus, following his loss in Madrid, Nadal is back at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings and looking forward to creating more history in Paris.

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In-Form Zverev Taking It Slowly At Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

In-Form Zverev Taking It Slowly At Roland Garros

Winner of 16 of past 18 matches, focuses on first round

Alexander Zverev may have won two titles and compiled a 14-match winning streak during the clay swing, to rank as one of the hottest talents on red dirt this year, but he isn’t leaving anything to chance on his third appearance at Roland Garros.

The German entered the clay-court major last year on the back of winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, but lost in the first round to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

“I’ve played good tennis in the clay-court season so far, and I know that I’m able to do so hopefully here, as well,” said Zverev, in Paris, on Friday. “But, I just want to go match by match and see how the tournament goes and we’ll see who will play his best tennis here.

“I’m not trying to think ahead. I have done that before in Grand Slams, and I lost early. I’m going to try to avoid that. I’m going to try to prepare myself the best I can and play the best tennis I can. The rest will take care of itself.”

Zverev, who will play Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the first round next week, features in the bottom quarter that includes 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka, two-time semi-finalist Dominic Thiem and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters runner-up Kei Nishikori.

You May Also Like: Nadal Learns Roland Garros Draw, Bottom Half Loaded

“If I lose to somebody that plays better than me on that day, and I have done everything right and I have played great tennis during the day and I lost, that’s okay, as well, because it happens. Sometimes other players are better than you.

“But I know that right now it’s more about preparing yourself for the long match, preparing yourself for the best tennis that you might play here.”

In his 11 previous Grand Slam championship appearances, Zverev has only reached the fourth round once at Wimbledon in 2017.

“This is a long tournament with a lot of hard matches,” said Zverev, the second seed. “I’m not trying to think that I’m going to play Rafa in the final. That’s not how I’m thinking. I’m thinking about every single match. I’m thinking about how to beat Berankis in the first round. That’s my thought process right now.”

The 21-year-old Zverev has put together an ATP World Tour-high 30 match wins this year (30-8), which includes two titles from four finals. He’s won 16 of his past 18 matches, including back-to-back triumphs at the BMW Open by FWU (d. Kohlschreiber) and the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).

“It’s obviously been a fantastic clay court season for me,” said Zverev on Friday. “Winning so many matches in a row, as well, over a period of Munich, Madrid, and Rome (l. to Nadal), was great coming in here.

“Obviously, there is a lot of other great players playing here, Rafa, Novak, and everybody. They are all getting on top of their game. I think this is going to be a very interesting tournament.”

Michael Stich remains the only German in the Open Era (since April 1968) to have reached the Roland Garros final. Stich was beaten by former World No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the 1996 title match.

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Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour

The preparation is now over. After three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, two 500-level tournaments on the surface and 11 ATP World Tour 250 events, the ATP World Tour is ready to take on Roland Garros. There is a lot on the line on the Parisian terre battue, with a massive 2,000 ATP Rankings and ATP Doubles Rankings points available for the winners. From former champions to the rapidly rising #NextGenATP, tennis fans are in for a treat as the fortnight is set to begin.

View Draw

1) Undécima: Rafael Nadal eyes a historic 11th championship at Roland Garros, where he could tie Margaret Court at the Australian Open for the most titles won by a man or woman at a Grand Slam event. Nadal is 79-2 at Roland Garros and 104-2 in best-of-five-set matches on clay. Outside of the World No. 1’s two losses, only John Isner (2011) and Novak Djokovic (2013) have pushed Nadal to five sets in Paris before losing.

You May Also Like: Nadal v The Dog Among 5 Must-See First-Round Roland Garros Matches

2) Rafa In Form: Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is 19-1 on clay this season with his 11th Monte-Carlo, 11th Barcelona and eighth Rome titles. He must win his 11th Roland Garros title to remain No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. Otherwise, Roger Federer will resume as World No. 1 on 11 June. From last year’s event on the terre battue until this year’s Rome quarter-finals, Nadal won 50 consecutive sets on clay, a record for most sets won in a row on a single surface.

3) Sensational Sascha: World No. 3 Alexander Zverev has reached five of the past 10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals, winning three titles. Could this be the moment for the 21-year-old German to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final? Zverev leads the ATP World Tour with 30 wins this season. He is also No. 1 in the ATP Race to London, ahead of Federer by 25 points and Nadal by 95 points entering Roland Garros.

Read Draw Preview: Zverev In Loaded Bottom Quarter

4) Party Of Two: There have been 16 World No. 3s since 25 July 2005, while only Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray have been in the Top 2. Zverev can become No. 2 if he wins the title and Nadal does not reach the final or if he advances to the final and Nadal loses in the first round.

5) Rare Company: Djokovic is one of two men to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, joining Robin Soderling by beating the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the 2015 quarter-finals. Now 7-16 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Nadal on clay, Djokovic is the only player with at least four clay-court wins against the 10-time champion.

6) Dominant Thiem: World No. 8 Dominic Thiem earned his third FedEx ATP Head2Head clay-court victory over Nadal on 11 May in Madrid, snapping the Spaniard’s 21-match and 50-set win streaks on the surface. Thiem has reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in the past two seasons.

7) Stan The Man: Who has the most wins at Roland Garros since 2015? Not Nadal. Not Djokovic. Stan Wawrinka, that’s who. The Swiss is 18-2 on the Parisian clay over the last three years, winning the title in 2015, reaching the semi-finals in 2016 and advancing to the final in 2017.

8) Delpo Rising: Few players have impressed as much early on in 2018 as Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine won 22 of his first 26 matches to start the year, claiming his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, ending Federer’s 17-match winning streak streak in the final.

9) #NextGenATP Watch: The Top 5 players in the ATP Race to Milan will be in action, including Frances Tiafoe, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. Tiafoe won his first ATP World Tour title at Delray Beach, Tsitsipas reached his maiden tour-level final at Barcelona, and Shapovalov is the new No. 1 Canadian in the ATP Rankings.

Read: Bryans’ Slam Streak To End

10) Super Streaks: Feliciano Lopez will play his 65th consecutive Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros, tying Federer for the all-time singles record. Mike Bryan is appearing at his 77th straight major in doubles, but first without his injured twin brother, Bob Bryan. Sam Querrey will team with Mike and try to help the 40-year-old become the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Doubles Rankings history.

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Kyrgios/Sock Book Place In Lyon Doubles Final

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Kyrgios/Sock Book Place In Lyon Doubles Final

Marach, Pavic aim to clinch fourth title of year in Geneva

Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock booked their places in the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon final with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Divij Sharan on Friday.

Kyrgios will compete in his first ATP World Tour doubles final, while Sock has a 10-10 record in team title matches. He lost his lone clay final with Vasek Pospisil at the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia (l. to Bryan/Bryan).

The Australian-American pair will next face Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop, who beat Fabrice Martin and Purav Raja 7-5, 6-1 in the semi-finals.

Jebavy and Middelkoop teamed up to capture last year’s St. Petersburg Open doubles title (d. Peralta/Zeballos). Jebavy has a perfect 2-0 in tour-level finals, while Middelkoop is 6-3 overall.

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At the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who rose to No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on Monday, will contest their 10th team final (4-5 record) after coming through 6-1, 7-6(2) against Robert Lindstedt and Andrei Vasilevski in 70 minutes.

They will next face second seeds Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram, who beat Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey 7-6(9), 6-4 in 89 minutes. Dodig and Ram saved one set point at 7/8 in the first set tie-break, which they won on their ninth chance.

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Romanian former world number one Nastase 'arrested twice in one day'

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Former world number one tennis player Ilie Nastase was arrested twice on Friday, Romanian authorities have said.

The 71-year-old was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving, before later being pulled over for driving a scooter without a valid licence.

Bucharest traffic police stopped Nastase at 4.45am local time and he gave a positive test at the station, officers said.

He was released, but arrested for a second time hours later.

Head of the Bucharest traffic police Victor Gilceava told a news conference Nastase attempted to drive away when flagged down by police in the first incident.

After being taken to the station, he was allowed to leave police custody after being fined £189 and having his licence suspended for three months.

Nastase was later arrested for a second time by traffic police after he was spotted riding the scooter. Police said an investigation into the second offence was now under way.

Last year, Nastase was banned from official roles by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) until 2021 and fined $10,000 (£7,700) following his tirade at a Fed Cup tie in Bucharest.

He swore at an umpire, insulted British number one Johanna Konta and her captain Anne Keothavong and made a derogatory comment about Serena Williams’ unborn child.

On appeal, his ban was reduced to eight months – Nastase will be able to work at ITF events from April 2020 – but his fine was doubled.

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Lyon Open: Cameron Norrie beaten by Gilles Simon in semi-final

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Britain’s Cameron Norrie failed to make the final of the Lyon Open after a 6-1 7-6 (8-6) defeat by experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Norrie, 22, had claimed the biggest win of his career by beating world number 10 John Isner in the quarter-finals.

But the world number 102 was beaten in straight sets on the clay-court by 75th-ranked Simon.

Norrie struggled with his serve in the first, but took the second to a tie-break before blowing two set points.

Simon will face Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic or top seed Dominic Thiem in the final.

  • Norrie hungry for more after rapid rise
  • Live scores, schedule and results

British number three Norrie is expected to rise up the rankings after a positive week in France, reach a ranking of 85 as he enters the French Open next week.

He had never played a professional match on red clay until he featured in the Davis Cup in February.

But after a first set in which he lost his serve three times, the left-hander fought his way back into the semi-final.

The second set played out without a single break of serve as Norrie matched home favourite Simon, before the match slipped away in the tie-break.

Elsewhere, James Ward is through to the semi-finals of the ATP Challenger Tour in Loughborough after Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili retired in the second set with the Briton leading 7-5 5-4.

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Gojowczyk Forges Past Fognini, Into Geneva Final

  • Posted: May 25, 2018

Gojowczyk Forges Past Fognini, Into Geneva Final

German to meet first-time finalist Fucsovics for title

Peter Gojowczyk’s run of form in Geneva continues, as the World No. 49 defeated second seed Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes to book his place in the final at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open on Friday. The German will face Marton Fucsovics, a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 winner over sixth seed Steve Johnson for the title in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter.

Gojowczyk is looking to cap off a stellar week in Geneva, where he has defeated Ivo Karlovic, David Ferrer, Andreas Seppi and Fognini. The 28-year-old admitted court conditions and his familiarity with the venue have benefited him throughout the week.

“I feel well here in Geneva, I have already played club matches here and know the court well,” Gojowczyk said. “Normally clay isn’t my best surface; I usually prefer hard court and grass. But here it is quite quick and that helps my aggressive game.”

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Gojowczyk and Fognini are now 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The 28-year-old moves to 17-12 in 2018 and is aiming for his second career title (2017 Moselle Open).

World No. 60 Fucsovics advanced to his maiden ATP World Tour final by overcoming Johnson in one hour and 58 minutes. After dropping the first set, the 26-year-old found his groove in the second and coasted through the final set in 31 minutes.

Fucsovics is the first Hungarian ATP World Tour finalist since Balazs Taroczy (1984 Indianapolis) and will try to become the first player from Hungary to capture a tour title since Taroczy (1982 Hilversum) when he faces Gojowczyk in Saturday’s final.

Did You Know
Gojowczyk’s four opponents in Geneva — Karlovic, Ferrer, Seppi and Fognini — have a combined 44 ATP World Tour titles between them.

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French Open 2018: Rafael Nadal favourite, no Andy Murray or Roger Federer, Serena Williams 'can win'

  • Posted: May 25, 2018
2018 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website

Sharp terracotta clay courts, luscious backdrops with the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance, rows of pristine Parisians wearing Panama hats… unmistakeably the French Open at Roland Garros.

The second Grand Slam of the tennis calendar – and the only major on clay – begins on Sunday.

Spain’s 16-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal is still the man to beat in Paris, while 23-time major winner Serena Williams is the star attraction in the women’s draw.

However, two of the biggest names will not be playing in the French capital – 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray.

In Murray’s absence, the British charge will be led by Kyle Edmund in the men’s draw and Johanna Konta in the women’s.

Here’s everything you need to know…

  • Is Zverev a Grand Slam champion in the making?
  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Alerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone

Who can stop the King of Clay?

Beating Nadal on a clay court is the ultimate challenge in tennis – a notion both 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic and three-time Grand Slam champion Murray agree on.

And, once again, the 31-year-old Spaniard is the favourite to win at Roland Garros.

Nadal triumphed in Paris last year, becoming the first player – male or female – to win the same Grand Slam tournament 10 times in the Open era.

Worryingly for his rivals, he has picked up where he left off last year on the clay, lifting his 11th titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona on his way to a record 50-set winning streak on a single surface.

Eventually that run came to an end in a defeat by Dominic Thiem in Madrid – Nadal’s first loss on clay since the Austrian world number eight beat him in Rome 12 months previously.

Normal service resumed for the Spaniard at the Italian Open, a gutsy three-set victory over Germany’s in-form Alexander Zverev giving him an eighth title in Rome, and helping him regain the world number one ranking from long-time rival Roger Federer.

Nevertheless Nadal – who begins his defence against Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov – deflected talk of lifting the Coupe des Mousquetaires for an 11th time following his win in Rome.

“Conditions in Paris are completely different,” he said. “I don’t believe that what happened, even if I lost – even with the victory – creates a big impact about what can happen in Paris.”

Click to see content: French_open_mens_champions

Where’s Federer?

For the second year running, Federer – who turns 37 in August – has decided to skip the entire clay-court season.

When announcing his decision last year, he spoke about the need to be smart with his scheduling to prolong his career, and the French Open – on his least favourite surface and a tournament which he has won only once in 2009 – has been sacrificial.

The decision proved to be a sensible one last year as a refreshed Federer returned to the court for the grass season, going on to lift a record eighth Wimbledon title.

The Swiss maestro regained the world number one ranking in February after a blistering start to the year in which he claimed the Australian Open during a 17-match winning run.

But successive defeats – by Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final, followed by a shock loss against injury-hit Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis – preceded the announcement Federer would again skip Roland Garros.

Federer has not played in Paris since 2015, leading to some suggestions – including from his old rival – that he does not fancy meeting Nadal on clay.

Click to see content: most_men_grand_slam_titles

Edmund ready for first Slam as Britain’s top man

With Murray still not fully recovered from hip surgery, Edmund goes into his first Grand Slam as the British number one.

It is the first Slam since the 2006 US Open where three-time major champion Murray has not been ranked as the country’s leading player.

Of course, Edmund has played on the biggest stage without Murray’s shadow looming – most notably at the Australian Open in January.

The 22-year-old became only the sixth British man in the Open era to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, seeing his remarkable run ended in the last four by Croatia’s 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Since then the Yorkshireman has also beaten 2016 French Open champion Djokovic in Madrid, helping him climb into the world’s top 20 for the first time.

He will begin his campaign against young Australian Alex de Minaur.

Cameron Norrie is the only other Briton in the men’s singles draw. The world number 102, who shot to prominence in the Davis Cup defeat by Spain in March, has gained direct entry to a Grand Slam for the first time and will face Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk in the first round.

Who can stop Nadal?

  • Alexander Zverev: The man identified by many as Nadal’s biggest threat. The 21-year-old German is the leading player on the ATP Tour this year, having won 30 matches and claimed clay-court titles in Munich and Madrid. However, he has never gone past the last 16 of a Grand Slam.
  • Marin Cilic: The powerful Croat reached a career-high third in the world following his run to the Australian Open final, but has never gone beyond the last eight at Roland Garros. Runs to the Monte Carlo quarter-finals and Rome semi-finals, however, have left the 29-year-old hoping he can go deep in the draw in Paris.
  • Novak Djokovic: The once-dominant Serb has dropped down the rankings after an elbow injury which has disrupted his career since Wimbledon. He is now ranked 22nd in the world, but showed glimpses of returning to his best form with a run to the Italian Open semi-finals this month.
  • Dominic Thiem: The one man to have beaten Rafael Nadal on clay in the past two years. And it is a feat the 24-year-old Austrian has achieved twice – in Rome last year and in Madrid earlier this month. He is yet to transfer his talent into major prizes, having still not managed to land a Masters title, although he has reached the Roland Garros semi-finals for two years running.
  • Stan Wawrinka: A frustrating year for the 2015 champion, who has been sidelined by a knee injury for much of the past year. The 33-year-old Swiss has reached at least the semi-finals in each of the past three years, but a lack of time on court means a similar feat this year might be beyond him.

Serena out of match practice – but ‘can still win’

Serena Williams has only played four Tour matches since returning to the court after giving birth to daughter Alexis in September – but that has not stopped coach Patrick Mouratoglou saying the 23-time Grand Slam champion can still win in Paris.

Williams, 36, lost to older sister Venus in the last 32 in Indian Wells on her WTA return in March, then went out to Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka in round one at Miami a fortnight later.

The former world number one has plummeted to 453rd in the world rankings, but is able to use her protected ranking to play at Roland Garros. The unseeded American starts against Czech Kristyna Pliskova.

If she does win a fourth French Open singles crown, although there are still question marks about her fitness and sharpness, it will take her level with Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record of 24 majors.

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Halep leads the female contenders

  • Simona Halep: The Romanian goes into the tournament as the world number one and the leading player on the WTA Tour this year, hoping this will be the moment she finally lands her first Grand Slam title. However, she has won only one of her past eight finals – including defeat by Jelena Ostapenko in last year’s Roland Garros showpiece.
  • Caroline Wozniacki: The Dane landed her first Grand Slam title with victory over Halep at the Australian Open in January and is second in the year’s Race to Singapore standings. Clay, however, is not her favourite surface, having never won a title on the red dirt.
  • Elina Svitolina: For the second year running, the Ukrainian world number four goes into Roland Garros as the Italian Open champion. In contrast to Halep, whom she beat in Rome, Svitolina has won her past eight finals – although has never reached a Grand Slam semi-final.
  • Jelena Ostapenko: The unseeded Latvian shocked the world 12 months ago when her all-out attacking game led to her an unlikely Roland Garros victory – just two days after her 20th birthday. She has maintained her place in the world’s top 10 since, despite a patchy 2018 which has brought only one final. But she cannot be counted out – especially with the experience of savouring victory – to succeed again on her favoured surface.
  • Maria Sharapova: A two-time champion at Roland Garros, the Russian will be among the seeds for the first time at a Grand Slam since returning from a 15-month doping ban last year.

Konta aiming to prove she can compete on clay

British number one Johanna Konta showed she was among the best on grass during her memorable run to the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, but it has been a different story on clay.

The 27-year-old only managed to win two matches on the surface last year, and has never progressed past the first round at Roland Garros.

But she showed encouraging signs by reaching the last 16 in Rome before losing to Ostapenko.

‘I’ve never believed that I’m not good on this surface,” said Konta, who plays Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in the opening round.

Konta has slipped to 22nd in the world rankings since her Wimbledon heroics propelled her to a career-high fourth, reaching just one quarter-final this year.

She is joined in the main draw by Heather Watson, who has also struggling for form but ended a four-month losing streak this week with a victory in Nuremberg.

The 26-year-old has dropped to 87th in the rankings and starts against home hopeful Oceane Dodin.

Also in the main draw – representing Australia – is Inverness-raised Isabelle Wallace. The 21-year-old left the Highlands at the age of 10 due to a lack of funding and tennis resources and now lives in Spain.

However, she told BBC Sport that she will be representing Scotland when she opens against Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium.

“Even though I’m Australian, everyone back home is full of support. I still think of myself as Scottish,” she said. “I think a lot of people would understand in my situation and it’s the right thing to.”

BBC coverage

We will be bringing you daily coverage from French Open across BBC radio and digital platforms.

Every day there will be a selected radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and/or on the BBC Sport website, while there will also be daily live text commentaries – featuring all the best images and social media from Paris – on the website.

You can also follow BBC Tennis on Twitter and the BBC Sport Instagram account for more behind-the-scenes coverage from Roland Garros.

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