Photo: Susan Mullane/Paul ZimmerNovak Djokovic (SRB) and Rafael Nadal (ESP)
The question on everyone's lips at this year's Roland Garros was which half of the draw would seven-time champion Rafael Nadal find himself in and, unfortunately for world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the king of clay landed on his side.
Seeded No. 3 after the withdrawal of world No. 2 Andy Murray, Nadal goes into this year's French Open at his blistering best on the surface on which he has proved almost invincible since making his Roland Garros debut in 2005.
The Spaniard, who missed the best part of eight months due to a knee injury, has returned to the Tour and it is as if he has never been away. Aside from two hiccups against Horacio Zeballos in the final of his first tournament back at Vina del Mar and against Djokovic in the final at Monte Carlo, Nadal has proven unbeatable, picking up six titles along the way, notably including one on hard court at Indian Wells-1000.
Djokovic, by contrast, has had a frustrating clay court season. He started strongly, with that victory over Nadal in the final of Monte Carlo proving the highlight, but he then lost to an inspired Grigor Dimitrov in the 1st round in Madrid before falling to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals in Rome.
The Serbian will have to be at his very best if he is to win the one major title to have so far eluded him and therefore complete a career Grand Slam. Last year he fell at the final hurdle against Nadal and in 2011 his astonishing streak of singles victories came to an end against Roger Federer in the semifinals.
On the other side of the men's draw it is No. 2 seed Federer who has been handed what should be a comfortable route through to the 3rd round. The Swiss is scheduled to play a qualifier in the opening two rounds before a potential 3rd round clash against Julien Benneteau.
Tomas Berdych finds himself pitted against French wildcard and former Roland Garros semifinalist Gael Monfils in the opening round and could play another tricky opponent in the shape of Ernests Gulbis if he makes it to the 2nd round.
In the women's draw No. 1 Serena Williams will be looking to make amends for a 1st round loss to Virginie Razzano last year, which means Georgia's Anna Tatishvili should be expecting fireworks from the 31-year-old.
There are some intriguing 1st round clashes, including Jelena Jankovic v Daniela Hantuchova and Ekaterina Makarova v Svetlana Kuznetsova. Venus Williams has been drawn against Urszula Radwanska in the opening round and should she get through that match could face Agnieszka Radwanska in the 3rd round.
Caroline Wozniacki has lost in the 1st round of her last four Tour-level events and has been handed a tricky opening encounter against the up-and-coming Laura Robson, who has defeated some big names on clay already this year.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova takes on Su-Wei Hsieh in the 1st round but she will have one eye on a potential semifinal against Victoria Azarenka.
The International Tennis Federation provides men’s information to the media at Grand Slams. For a full list of this year’s notes click here.