Published May 24, 2013
| Sports Network
Paris, France – Rafael Nadal's quest for an eighth French Open title could include a semifinal matchup with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The draw for the second Grand Slam event of 2013 was revealed Friday and a third-seeded Nadal was placed in the top half with the top-seeded Djokovic. The two met in last year's final on the storied red clay of Roland Garros and Nadal came away with a four-set win for his third straight French Open crown and seventh in the past eight years.
Nadal has lost just once in the French capital. The super Spaniard was battling a knee issue when he fell to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the 2009 event. Soderling went on to lose to Roger Federer in the final, giving the Swiss superstar his only French Open title and the career Grand Slam.
Federer, who has yet to win a title of any kind in 2013, is the second seed this year and is in the bottom half of the draw. He'll face a qualifier in the first round and, if he wins his opener, another qualifier in the second round.
It would get tougher from there for the 17-time Grand Slam champion, as a host of Frenchmen could await. He could face Julien Benneteau in the third round, 15th-seeded Gilles Simon in the fourth and sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals.
David Ferrer is the next best seed in the bottom half. The Spaniard is seeded fourth this year, thanks in part to the absence of an injured Andy Murray, and last year had his best finish at the French with a semifinal run. He'll open with Australia's Marinko Matosevic.
Tomas Berdych is also in the bottom half, but the fifth-seeded Czech may have the toughest first-round match of any of the top players. He'll battle Frenchman Gael Monfils, whose best career Grand Slam finish was a semifinal result at the 2008 French.
Nadal, meanwhile, is once again the clear-cut favorite. In addition to his unprecedented success at Roland Garros, he has reached the final in each of his eight events this year with six titles. The 11-time Grand Slam champ didn't start his season until February after recovering from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for seven months, but has won his last three tournaments -- all on clay -- at Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.
The last player to beat Nadal, however, was Djokovic -- and on clay no less -- for the title at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Djokovic needs only a French title to complete a career Grand Slam. He reached the final for the first time last year and won this season's first major -- taking the Australian Open championship for the third consecutive year.
The Serb also won in Dubai, but did not fare well after beating Nadal in Monte Carlo, suffering a loss to Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match at Madrid and falling to Berdych in the Rome quarters.
Up first for Djokovic next week will be Belgium's David Goffin, while Dimitrov could await in the third round. Fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, the eighth seed, could be a quarterfinal opponent.
Nadal doesn't appear to have much resistance early. He will open with German Daniel Brands and could face either American Michael Russell or Slovakia's Martin Klizan in the second round. Potential fourth-round foes could include rising Frenchman Benoit Paire or Japan's Kei Nishikori, while quarterfinal opponents could be seventh-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet or ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Play begins Sunday and runs through June 9.