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Djokovic, Nadal drawn into same half in Roland Garros

Defending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled to put up a highly-anticipated semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal as they were drawn into the bottom half in men’ singles of the 2017 French Open.

Five Chinese girls faced mixed drawing fate here on Friday, 32nd-seeded Zhang Shuai possibly got the chance of beating her previous personal best in Roland Garros, while Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai had an uphill challenge in the first round, reports Xinhua news agency.

Djokovic, who swept all Grand Slam tournament trophies with success last year, will meet Spanish Marcel Granollers in his opening title defence match. The Serbian suffered an early second-round exit in Australian Open early this year, while improving his performance into the clay season, from quarterfinal in Monte Carlo, semifinal in Madrid and final in Rome.

Nadal will kick off his campaign against local favorite Benoit Paire, and is likely to face fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarter-final if everything goes well in his way.

Djokovic and Nadal had their last duel in the semi-finals in Madrid, where Nadal won in two sets and continued his in-form performance to take away the title. The “King of Clay” also tasted victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, while snapping his winning streak in front of Austrian promising star Dominic Thiem in Rome.

For Djokovic, Nadal still remained the favourite in clinching his 10th title in Roland Garros.

“I definitely see him as probably No. 1 favourite for this title,” commented the titleholder.

World number one Andy Murray, positioned in the top half, expected a real challenge in as early as the third round, where he may face Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.

On the way to a possible semi-final with the 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, the top seed could expect number 13 seed Tomas Berdych, German youngster Alexander Zverev or Japanese Kei Nishikori ahead.

In anticipation of breaking her previous record of second round in Roland Garros, Chinese top-ranked girl Zhang Shuai will face Donna Vekic of Croatia in the first round, and next meet the winner between Viktorija Golubic and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with number eight seed Svetlana Kuznetsova looming ahead in the third round.

Peng Shuai, who was still involved in Strasbourg Open as a warm-up for the French Open, will have a first-round clash with Sorana Cirstea of Romania, with Tatjana Maria of Germany as Duan Yingying’s first-round opponent.

However, the draw went pretty against Wang Qiang and Zheng Saisai, as the former will meet number 10 seed Venus Williams and the latter will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova.

Reigning champion Garbine Muguruza will open her campaign in women’s singles against the 2011 finalist Francesca Schiavone.

The 2017 French Open, with a total prize of 35,981,500 euros, will run from May 28 until June 11.

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