Men's Draw: Djokovic and Nadal on collision course

 - Chris Oddo

Familiar foes land in the same quarter with a potential blockbuster quarter-final in the cards

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic Roland-Garros 2021©Cedric Lecocq

On Thursday evening in Paris, the draw gods had their say. Now it's time for the players to do their thing - the 128-player men's singles field will begin play on Sunday at Roland-Garros.

Here are some of the main takeaways from the draw.

Rafa lands in Novak's quarter

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal are in position for a possible blockbuster quarter-final in Paris in 2022.

World No.1 Djokovic became the first man in history to own two victories over Nadal at Roland-Garros last year when he toppled the Spaniard in an epic semi-final.


This year the Serb might have to fight past the 21-time Grand Slam champion again to complete a successful title defence.

Nadal and Djokovic have met nine times at Roland-Garros, with the Spaniard winning seven of the nine meetings.

The pair enter the draw with expectations on the opposite ends of the spectrum, however. Top-seeded Djokovic is brimming with hope after securing his first title of the season in Rome, while No.5 seed Nadal is racing against the clock as he hopes to get his injured left foot in shape.

The half of death

With Nadal, Djokovic and surging Carlos Alcaraz all tucked into the top half of the draw, it's easy to see why the section has earned our grim moniker.

Only one of the top three favourites can reach the final in Paris; additionally, either Djokovic or Nadal will already be eliminated by the semi-finals.


Of the three, Alcaraz got the better deal. In the opposite quarter of Nadal and Djokovic, the 19-year-old will begin his second Roland-Garros main draw appearance against a qualifier.

Things could get interesting in the third round for Alcaraz -- he is slated to face No.27-seeded Sebastian Korda, the man who knocked him out of Monte-Carlo.

Nadal opens with Aussie Jordan Thompson and could potentially face resurgent Stan Wawrinka in the second round.

Djokovic starts his campaign against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, and could face 15th-seeded Diego Schwartzman in the round of 16.

Whoever reaches the final on the top half will have to run the gamut to get there.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2022, practice© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Unseeded threats

Two of the youngest players in the men's singles draw are angling for blockbuster upsets in the first round.

Italy's Lorenzo Musetti, who reached the round of 16 in Paris last year and took the first two sets from Djokovic before bowing out, will have another chance to take down a big fish on the terre battue as he faces fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The current world No.57, now 20 years old, has lost both previous meetings with Tsitsipas, but did take the Greek to three sets in their only previous meeting on clay, in Lyon in 2021.

World No.40 Holger Rune is one of a handful of players to head to Roland-Garros with a clay-court title under his belt, and the 19-year-old will look to parlay confidence gained from his maiden triumph in Munich into an upset of No.14-seed Denis Shapovalov in the opening round.

Rune is making his Roland-Garros debut, and is still seeking his first win at a major.

Holger Rune, Monte Carlo 2022, second round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Tsitsipas' great escape

Every Grand Slam draw has its winners and losers. So what did Thursday night's draw represent for fourth-seeded Tsitsipas?

For starters, the 23-year-old Greek avoided having to face Nadal or Djokovic before the final.

Same with Alcaraz, a player that has taken up residence inside of Tsitsipas' head in the last 52 weeks, defeating him all three times they have played.

Put that in the win column. But don't ignore Tsitsipas' first-round challenge.

The fiery Greek is slated to face 57th-ranked Musetti in the opening round. The Greek owns the 2-0 head-to-head over the Italian, but Musetti showed his class on the terre battue last year when he reached the fourth round on his debut.

Tsitisipas was one set from the title in Paris last year. Getting past Musetti could be the spark that ignites a maiden Grand Slam run.

Sinner enters land of opportunity

Italy's Jannik Sinner is among a handful of names that can be slid into a second tier of favourites at Roland-Garros.

After the draw, even more so.

The 20-year-old has already established a stellar pedigree in Paris, where he became the first men's singles player to reach the quarter-finals on his debut since Nadal in 2005.

The Italian followed that up last year with a trip to the round of 16, which was once again ended by a ruthless Nadal.

This year the draw gods have been kind to the No.11 seed. He is in the bottom half, slated to face a qualifier in the opening round.

If he progresses to the second week again, No.7 seed Andrey Rublev could be waiting in the fourth round. All of this in Daniil Medvedev's wide open quarter of the men's singles draw.

If there is a draw winner at Roland-Garros this year, Sinner gets our vote.

Jannik Sinner, practrice, Roland-Garros 2022, 18/05/2022©Philippe Montigny / FFT