Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal drawn to face each other in semis

Winning three clay-court tournaments in a row signaled that Rafael Nadal is back and again a candidate to win the tournament he has dominated the way no man has dominated any Grand Slam event.

Coverage of the French Open starts on ITV4 at 9.30am Sunday.

The world number one can't face Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal until the final, however the Brit could meet former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round.

Written off as a contender in Paris after a quarterfinal loss to Novak Djokovic in 2015 and an injury-enforced pull-out before the third round past year, Nadal arrives at Roland Garros as the overwhelming favourite.

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. "I think I played well in nearly every event that I was in", Nadal said. "He's a player with big talent - great serve, great hands and a fantastic backhand". It makes me happy to feel myself competitive and play well in every event that I played.

This is the first week in the 40-year-plus history of the ATP computer rankings that the top five men are all 30 or older.

"It's nice ... for the tour, as well, to have a few younger guys, few younger girls, as well, to be able to play at the top", said Zverev, who is German. "At the end of the day for me the only important thing is arrive here, play well. I've been around long enough to know how to play tennis". I was very glad that he accepted to come in person to Paris and spend some time together.

The Scot will head to Roland Garros with just five wins under his belt since February and a hard looking opening round contest against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, who arrives in Paris on the back of a run to the semi-finals of the Geneva Open.

Thiem, the 23-year-old world number nine, has already faced Nadal three times on clay this spring - losing in the finals in Barcelona and Madrid before gaining revenge in the quarter-finals in Rome. We know that Nadal is considered the king of clay, but he's taken his recent play to another level and is playing some of his best tennis we've seen from him in a while.

He said: "I was talking with Andre for a couple of weeks during Madrid and Rome on the phone, preparing for the matches, analysing matches". There is no avoiding that he has been in awful form - losing to Albert Ramos Viñolas, Thiem, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini in his last four tournaments - although at least at the French he has Ivan Lendl back in his corner.

"It was one of my last dreams in terms of tournaments that I wanted to win here", said Djokovic at the draw on Friday. His sledgehammer forehand remains one of the sport's great weapons and, provided he is fully fit, he can be a threat to all the big names.

"Since the beginning of the year, everything has gone better than expected", Nadal said.

"I don't think anyone will get to nine at the same tournament".

"I think previous year it cost him a little bit in the final because of the tough five-setters he had".

Nadal, who will attempt to become the first player in the Open Era to win the same grand slam 10 times, has won both of his previous two matches against the 45-ranked Paire and will come up against the Frenchman for the first time in four years.

World number one Andy Murray is seeded to face 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the last four.

  • Julie Sanders