Sports, Tennis

Nadal, Djokovic chase history

Published : 30 May 2021 08:17 PM

AFP, Paris

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will set their sights on more Grand Slam history at the French Open as Roland Garros embraces a new but eerily empty era of night time tennis.

A 14th title in Paris for Nadal would take him to a record-setting 21st major, surpassing the mark he shares with Roger Federer who has already written off his hopes of adding to his lone success in the French capital back in 2009.

Djokovic, the champion in 2016, can move to 19 Grand Slam titles with victory.

That would make the world number one the first man in over half a century to win all four majors on multiple occasions.

Only one of the sport's 'Big Three' will make the June 13 final after the draw placed top seed Djokovic, third seed Nadal and eighth-seeded Federer in the same half of the draw.

That means Djokovic is scheduled to face Federer in the quarterfinals before a potential semifinal blockbuster with Nadal.

"I see it as completely normal. I'm not worried about it. I have a lot of work in front of me to play a potential match versus Djokovic," said Nadal, who has already won clay court titles this season in Barcelona and Rome.

At last year's delayed Roland Garros, Nadal swept past Djokovic in straight sets in the final.

It was Nadal's 100th win at the tournament against just two losses since his 2005 title-winning debut.

Nadal, who defeated Djokovic in the Rome final, starts his campaign against Alexei Popyrin of Australia, the world number 62.

Giving Djokovic hope, however, is the knowledge that he was responsible for one of Nadal's losses in Paris, in the 2015 quarterfinals.

He is also a four-time runner-up although three of those defeats in the championship match came against the Spaniard.