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French Open: Roger Federer to play Lorenzo Sonego on return to Paris

Roger Federer

2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Swiss great Roger Federer’s first French Open since 2015 will begin against Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will play a qualifier, while top seed Novak Djokovic meets Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

In the women’s draw, 2018 winner Simona Halep of Romania faces Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

British number one Johanna Konta – seeded 26th – faces a qualifier, while male counterpart Kyle Edmund meets home hope Jeremy Chardy.

British men’s number two Cameron Norrie will play controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios, while Dan Evans takes on Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Katie Boulter was thought to have pulled out of the tournament earlier this month because of a back injury – although there is confusion after the 22-year-old Briton’s name appeared in Thursday’s draw and put her against Croatian 23rd seed Donna Vekic.

The French Open – the second Grand Slam of the year and the only one on clay – starts on Sunday.

Federer and Nadal could meet in the last four

Roger Federer shakes hands with Stan Wawrinka after being beaten in the last eight in 2015

Third seed Federer, 37, has been drawn in the same half of the men’s singles as 11-time champion Nadal, meaning they could meet in the semi-finals.

Federer could also face Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, who knocked him out of the Australian Open in January, in the last eight.

Spanish second seed Nadal has been handed a favourable-looking draw, with another qualifier awaiting in round two before potential matches against seeds David Goffin, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Kei Nishikori, or Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic is projected to meet Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem, who was beaten by Nadal in last year’s final, in the last four.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev is a potential quarter-final opponent for the Serb.

Williams and Osaka set for rematch?

Serena Williams

Serena Williams, who has been struggling with injury, plays 82nd-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia.

American 10th seed Williams cannot meet another seeded player until the third round, where she is projected to meet Canada’s 18-year-old rising star Bianca Andreescu, before a potential clash with eighth seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the last 16.

World number one Naomi Osaka begins her first Grand Slam as the top seed against Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, with 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko or two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka awaiting in the second round if the Japanese player beats the world number 92.

Williams could face Osaka, who beat the 23-time Grand Slam champion in September’s controversial US Open final, in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams has been drawn against Ukrainian ninth seed Elina Svitolina.

Konta has chance to end Roland Garros run

Johanna Konta

Konta has raced up the rankings – and earned herself a seeding in Paris – on the back of an impressive clay-court season in which she has reached the final of the Morocco Open and Italian Open.

The 28-year-old is hoping that form will lead to a change of fortune at Roland Garros, where she has lost in the first round on her four previous appearances.

Konta’s rise means she cannot play another seed until the third round, where she could meet in-form fourth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

Konta and Boulter are the only British women with direct entry into the main draw, although Katie Swan, 20, is hoping to reach it for the first time by winning her final qualifying match on Friday.

Edmund, 24, has struggled for form on the clay this season and has been handed a relatively tricky tie for a seeded player against France’s Chardy, who is ranked 40th.

Evans – who has qualified directly for a Grand Slam for the first time in two years – plays a man who has been ranked inside the world’s top 10 in the shape of 35-year-old Verdasco.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Of the two most likely winners of the men’s title, Nadal should be the happier. Two qualifiers in the opening two rounds – always assuming he gets that far – is a nice introduction.

Djokovic appears to have a more challenging path to navigate: first against the emerging Polish player Hurkacz and perhaps then against Sam Querrey, who famously beat him at Wimbledon three years ago.

Konta will be wary of any qualifier – who will already have three wins under her belt – but in the third round may run into Bertens, whom she beat in the last four in Rome.

The draw could have been kinder to both Edmund and Evans.

And Norrie will expect a boisterous crowd (and maybe even the odd flying plastic chair) when he takes on Kyrgios.

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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