Tricky draw for favourite Nadal

Tricky draw for favourite Nadal

Holder Federer runs into Luczak first

Tricky draw for favourite Nadal

Defending women’s champion Svetlana Kuznetsova at Friday’s draw ceremony for the French Open, beginning at Roland Garros in Paris on Sunday. AFP

World number two Nadal, however, did not seem too worried by his fate as he was spotted practising on a sun-bathed centre court while holders Roger Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova were making the draw.

Nadal, beaten for the first time at Roland Garros last year, is in the same half as fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

Following a first-round match against Frenchman Gianni Mina, the Spaniard could meet Australian Lleyton Hewitt and big-serving Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia before a possible quarterfinal against Verdasco and a semifinal clash with Djokovic. Nadal refused to look beyond his first-round opponent. Asked who were his main rivals for the May 23-June 6 tournament, he said: "First round, no? I play against a wildcard from France and that's my toughest opponent now."

Fourth-seeded Andy Murray, gunning for his first Grand Slam title, will face gifted Frenchman Richard Gasquet and the Paris crowd in a treacherous first round.
Murray lost two of his three matches against Gasquet but won the last one in a memorable five-set thriller at Wimbledon in 2008.

World number one Federer takes on Australian Peter Luczak in the first round en route to a possible fifth French Open final against Nadal, whom he has never beaten at Roland Garros. He could face France's Gael Monfils in the fourth round and Swede Robin Soderling, whom he defeated in last year's final.

In the women's draw, four-time champion Justine Henin, who returned to tennis in January after 20 months in retirement, got a difficult draw with a possible third-round clash with Russia's Maria Sharapova.

A quarterfinal match-up with world number one Serena Williams, who takes on Swiss Stefanie Voegele in the first round, looms for the 22nd-seeded Belgian. Holder Kuznetsova, seeded sixth, is in the other half, and had an easier draw with a possible quarterfinal match against Dane Caroline Wozniacki, the third seed.
She then could face second seed Venus Williams in the semifinals, but the American will not have it easy to get there.

She takes on Swiss Patty Schnyder in the first round before a possible fourth-round encounter with either Russian Nadia Petrova or France's Aravane Rezai, who beat her in the final in Madrid last Sunday.