First rain drops at French Open

The King of Clay is back.

Elena Svitolina: Won four titles this season, including the Italian Open on clay. Sharapova's ranking wasn't high enough to gain direct entry into the tournament as she returns from a 15-month drug suspension, and the head of the French Tennis Federation decided not to give her a wild card.

Once again, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were placed in the same half of the draw.

The 2017 French Open could still be awesome, but the two greatest players of all-time will not be taking part in it in Federer and Williams.

World No. 2 Djokovic, who is about to begin the defence of his French Open title, said he initially sought out Agassi's contact details just so he could thank him for his support as his career threatened to hit the skids earlier this year.

While Nadal is the favourite at Roland Garros, his loss to Thiem showed that he could be stopped on clay with his current form.

However, Federer, 35, has confirmed he will skip the French Open in order to get himself prepared for Wimbledon. "If he hasn't had a good Wimbledon - I don't think people need to start panicking but Andy will be a little more concerned because obviously grass is a very natural surface for him and his success rate on that surface is nearly second to none".

The old facility, now 89 years old, is the one tennis complex of the four major-tournament venues which does not have either lights or a roof.

The 11th-seeded Bulgarian, who was once regarded as a potential future No. 1, has never fared well at the French Open. Another big name that will not be at Roland Garros is new mother Victoria Azarenka, but has announced she will be returning for Wimbledon.

"I'm really glad to have made the decision to play here", said 27-year-old Kvitova, who was seriously hurt when she tackled an armed intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December.

It's been a disastrous 2017 for the top two players on the ATP World Tour.

Two-time French Open victor Sharapova, who made her comeback last month after serving a 15-month doping suspension following a positive test for the banned drug meldonium at last year's Australian Open, had hoped for a favour from the French Tennis Federation (FTF) because her ranking - 173 - does not warrant an automatic placement in the competition. The clay season has been one to forget with eliminations in straight sets to No. 29 Fabio Fognini in Rome along with No. 59 Borna Coric in Madrid.

Murray's poor form this year has, not surprisingly, reflected his physical travails.

Thiem reached the French Open semifinals past year, losing to eventual champion Djokovic.

However, the 30-year-old has bounced back greatly this year and has already reached a magical 10 titles at the clay-court events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The pair practiced this week together and Djokovic seems to be having more fun on the court in the first few days.

"The only way to have chances, real chances to play good event is play very well, be healthy, and then be with the right attitude in every practice and in every match, no?"

"Tennis has changed in the last 15 years ... since they slowed down surfaces and there is not much difference in speeds of the surfaces", said Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams' coach. He had won the 2016 Australian Open before winning in Roland Garros. Her tournament place was in jeopardy however Bouchard announced Saturday she will attempt to play through the injury.

  • Julie Sanders