Nadal, Djokovic launch French Open assaults
Record nine-time winner Rafael Nadal and title-holder Novak Djokovic set off today ahead of a French Open collison course, while champions past and present meet in the women\'s first round.
Paris: Record nine-time winner Rafael Nadal and title-holder Novak Djokovic set off today ahead of a French Open collison course, while champions past and present meet in the women's first round.
Nadal is bidding to become the first player in the Open era to win 10 titles at any Grand Slam event, with a spectacular return to form in 2017 once more marking the Spaniard out as this year's Roland Garros favourite.
Three clay-court titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid suggest the 30-year-old is poised to end a three-year drought at majors -- his last Grand Slam triumph came in Paris in 2014.
But the fourth seed is aware of the threat posed by mercurial Frenchman Benoit Paire, who will have considerable support on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
"He is not an opponent you want to play against in the first round. A player with big talent. Great serve, great hands and fantastic backhand," said Nadal.
"He's a dangerous opponent. I need to play my best."
Nadal's long-time nemesis Djokovic will look to draw inspiration from new coach Andre Agassi, the 1999 French Open champion, as the Serb begins the defence of his crown.
This time a year ago Djokovic was on his way to completing a career Grand Slam, holding all four major titles at the same time following his maiden success in Paris.