French Open draw: Nadal faces Gerasimov, Williams plays Ahn

Paris: Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a record-extending 13th French Open title against Egor Gerasimov, while Serena Williams starts her attempt for a record-equalling 24th major against Kristie Ahn in all-American match-up.

The 34-year-old Nadal, who is seeded second and has never faced the 83rd-ranked Belarusian, is aiming to equal the absent Roger Federer's men's record of 20 grand slam titles. Nadal holds a 93-2 record at Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal will chase a record-extending 13th title on the Paris clay.Credit:AP

The sixth-seeded Williams, who turns 39 on Saturday, fell short in her bid to equal Margaret Court's record at the US Open, losing to Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals. Williams has won the French Open three times, the first in 2002 and the last in 2015.

As many as 10 Australians may be in the main draw at Roland Garros with John Millman's opener against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta headlining local interest. Alex De Minaur gets his tournament under way against a qualifier, who could be countryman Aleksandar Vukic after he beat American Jason Jung to make the main draw of a major for the first time.

Astra Sharma remains alive in women's qualifying where she will attempt to join Daria Gavrilova, Ajla Tomljanovic and Maddison Inglis. The Australian trio face 24th seed Dayana Yastremska, 20th seed Maria Sakkari and Ekaterina Alexandrova respectively.

Thursday's draw also pitted top-ranked Novak Djokovic against No. 80 Mikael Ymer of Sweden in their first career meeting.

Australians in the first round


  • John Millman v Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
  • Alexei Popyrin v Lloyd Harris (RSA)
  • Jordan Thompson v Radu Albot (MDA)
  • James Duckworth v Tommy Paul (USA)
  • Alex De Minaur (25) v qualifier


  • Daria Gavrilova v Dayana Yastremska (24, UKR)
  • Ajla Tomljanovic v Maria Sakkari (20, GRE)
  • Maddison Inglis v Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)

Djokovic, who could face powerful Russian Karen Khachanov in the fourth round, is trying again for an 18th major title.

Like Williams, he fell short at Flushing Meadows but for a very different reason.

The 33-year-old Serb was kicked out for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat when angrily swiping away a tennis ball during a match. His only title at the French was in 2016 and he lost the final in 2014 to Nadal and 2015 to Stan Wawrinka.

The draw was carried out electronically because there were no players present amid a strict coronavirus health and safety protocol.

Wawrinka, seeded 16th, faces another three-time major winner in Britain’s Andy Murray, the runner-up in 2016. Murray leads Wawrinka 12-8 overall but is still trying to get back to his best after having hip surgery last year.

John Millman will take on Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round.Credit:Getty

Dominic Thiem, who beat Alexander Zverev in five sets in the US Open final for his first major, takes on big-hitting Marin Cilic in their first meeting at Roland Garros.

Thiem has lost the past two finals at Roland Garros to Nadal with the pair on track for another meeting in the semis.

Zverev plays Austrian Dennis Novak.

Top-seeded Simona Halep, the 2018 champion and two-time runner-up, faces Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament with an injured hamstring.

Halep is seeded first because No. 1 Ash Barty opted out of defending her title amid coronavirus concerns.

Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, seeded fourth, plays Russian Liudmila Samsonova; third-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is up against Varvara Gracheva, and the 10th-seeded Azarenka faces Danka Kovinic.

Also, 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia takes on American Madison Brengle and the 40-year-old Venus Williams, runner-up to her sister in 2002, opens against Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Sloane Stephens, the 2018 runner-up, is seeded 29th and takes on Russian Vitalia Diatchenko.

Several players pulled out of the tournament on Thursday, including Milos Raonic of Canada, Fernando Verdasco of Spain and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. The 10th-ranked Bencic is the fourth woman in the top 10 to withdraw.

The number of fans allowed at Roland Garros has been set to 5000 per day, and tournament director Guy Forget is hoping that number will not be reduced further after the government announced on Wednesday that a new limit of 1000 people will be imposed at big events in big cities amid growing coronavirus concerns. It remains unclear whether those guidelines will affect Roland Garros, which begins on Sunday and ends on October 11.

“The last we heard officially from the police prefecture was that 5000 is very, very safe," Forget said. "We are playing the tournament on the size of 15 football fields and an outside stadium.”


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