'This is crazy': Tennis world left raging over French Open 'joke'

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Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, pictured here at the French Open in 2021.
Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are in the same half of the French Open draw. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Tennis fans and commentators have reacted with disbelief after a number of the world's top male players were placed in the same half of the French Open draw.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time winner Rafa Nadal are on a quarter-final collision course at Roland Garros after one of the most lop-sided draws at a major in recent memory.

Djokovic was drawn in the toughest half of an unbalanced draw with Nadal, as well as in-form Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz and World No.3 Alexander Zverev.

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If all goes to plan, Djokovic would meet Nadal in the quarters and Alcaraz would play Zverev.

Nadal, who has concerns over a recurrence of a chronic foot problem, will meet Australia's Jordan Thompson in the first round, while Djokovic will meet Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Djokovic is back on the grand slam scene for the first time since being deported from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated.

In the bottom half of the draw, last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas faces a tricky first-round match against Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who last year took Djokovic to five sets in the fourth round.

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev could take on compatriot Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals as Russian players have been allowed to compete despite their country's invasion of Ukraine.

However fans and commentators took to social media to bemoan the lop-sided nature of the draw.

The top half also features Felix Auger Aliassime, who is currently fourth in the race to the ATP Finals.

That means four of the top five players in the ATP Finals race are in the same half of the draw - Nadal, Alcaraz, Zverev and Auger Aliassime - alongside No.1 Djokovic.

Tennis writer Jose Morgado tweeted: "One of the most unbalanced I can remember.

"AusOpen was cause the top seed withdrew. 4 of the race top 5 in the top half + ATP #1 Djokovic. Crazyy."

The French Open will operate at full capacity for the first time in three years after the last two tournaments were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It's amazing to see all the fans who have already come here for the qualifications," said Djokovic, who attended the draw ceremony at Roland Garros.

"I am very motivated to play my best tennis. Last year in Paris was the perfect result.

"Roland Garros was maybe the hardest of my career, of all the grand slams I have won. Very emotional, tiring, but at the end, I got the result."

Tough French Open draw for Naomi Osaka

In the women's draw, overwhelming favourite Iga Swiatek, looking to secure her second French Open title in three years, could face former champion Jelena Ostapenko in the last 16.

Ostapenko was the last player to beat the Polish World No.1 before she started her 28-match unbeaten streak, winning five titles before the start of the French Open on Sunday.

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova is on a last-16 collision course with former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the bottom half of the draw.

Amanda Anismova and Naomi Osaka, pictured here at the 2022 Australian Open.
Amanda Anismova and Naomi Osaka at the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the tournament last year after skipping her media duties and citing mental health issues, has been drawn to face American 27th seed Amanda Anisimova in perhaps the toughest opening round match.

Osaka is a four-time grand slam champion and former World No.1, but has slipped to No. 38 in part because of a lack of activity.

That included time off for a mental health break when she revealed that she has dealt with anxiety and depression.

Anisimova won a third-round encounter with Osaka at the Australian Open in January by a score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Osaka was the defending champion at Melbourne Park.

with agencies

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