The Roland Garros men’s main draw action is set to start on Sunday, but the drama begins as soon as the draw is announced.
1) Novak Djokovic
2) Andy Murray
3) Stan Wawrinka
4) Rafael Nadal
5) Kei Nishikori
6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
7) Tomas Berdych
8) Milos Raonic
Novak Djokovic will attempt to complete the career Grand Slam that has always eluded him. His fifth attempt begins again, and Friday he was dealt a very favorable draw to achieve it. Of course, the world No. 1 will have to go defeat nine-time Paris champion Rafael Nadal. Nadal is the biggest challenge to Djokovic in Paris, although the Serb won their most recent battle in the Rome quarterfinals. The two are set to meet in the semifinals, in what would be their 50th match against each other. In their head-to-head outcomes, Djokovic leads 26-23.
Djokovic, Nadal and Tomáš Berdych are joined on the top half of the draw by No. 6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who made the semifinals last year) and Dominic Thiem (the No. 13 seed).
Andy Murray, world No. 2, is at the bottom half of the draw. Although he beat Djokovic in Rome last week, he doesn’t usually pose that much of a threat on clay. Stan Wawrinka, the defending French Open champion, was drawn into the lower half as well. Last year, Wawrinka fired 40 winners in a four-set final win over Djokovic.
To add to the building drama, Roger Federer (the 2009 champion) has withdrawn from the tournament, saying he was not 100 percent from a back injury. It is the first time that Federer will miss a major tournament since the 1999 U.S. Open.
The bottom half features a possible Murray-Kei Nishikori quarterfinal, while Wawrinka is due to meet either American Jack Sock or Canadian Milos Raonic. The tournament’s seeded Americans—John Isner (No. 15) and Jack Sock (No. 23)—are both in the bottom half of the draw, as is 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.
One of the first round matches you won’t want to miss is a battle between Croatian 19-year-old Borna Coric and American 18-year-old Taylor Fritz, 18. They are playing each other for the first time. The other ‘must-see’ first round match is between Alexander Zverev, of Germany, and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Along with countrymen John Isner, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson and Taylor Fritz, good old Sam Query is in the draw too. He will battle fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo in the first round. Fratangelo (who was the 2011 French Open junior champion) won the USTA’s reciprocal wild card due.