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Federer gets tough French Open draw
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May 25, 2007 18:49 IST

World number one Roger Federer faces a tough task in his bid to win the French Open for the first time.

The Swiss, dreaming of capturing the only Grand Slam title to have eluded him, was drawn on Friday in the same half as several dangerous opponents, including former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

He could also run into Tommy Robredo, Marat Safin, Ivan Ljubicic, Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, Guillermo Canas and Fernando Gonzalez.

Twice defending champion Rafael Nadal, the world number two, was handed a far easier draw for the claycourt tournament starting on Sunday at Roland Garros.

Top seed Federer will start with a relatively easy match against little-known American Michael Russell and should not be challenged in the next two rounds.

From the fourth round, however, things are likely to get a lot more complicated for the elegant 25-year-old as he could meet Spaniard Ferrero, the 2003 champion.

If he survives that, a possible semi-final clash against Chilean Gonzalez could be on the cards.

Nadal will start against unheralded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and has a smooth passage through to the fourth round, in which he could meet Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

Former champion Carlos Moya of Spain and American Andy Roddick, seeded third, could then stand in the muscular 20-year-old's way before a possible semi-final encounter with Serbia's Novak Djokovic, seeded sixth.

In the women's draw, the top contenders look set to progress smoothly through to the latter stages. World number one Justine Henin, who like Nadal is chasing a third successive crown, starts against Russia's Elena Vesnina, while Russia Maria Sharapova, the second seed but not a claycourt specialist, will face Frenchwoman Emilie Loit in the first round.

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