The Wimbledon and Australian Open champion has never made it past the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and the draw made on Friday did not help him this year.
In the top half of the men's draw are the winners of the last four finals in Paris, title-holder Juan Carlos Ferrero, fellow-Spaniard Albert Costa and Brazil's Kuerten, as well as Federer.
Ferrero's participation was still doubtful on Friday due to injury and his coach said the Spanish fourth seed would make a decision on Saturday.
After a first-round match against a qualifier, Federer could meet France's Thierry Ascione or German Nicolas Kiefer before a likely clash with 1997, 2000 and 2001 winner Kuerten.
Federer also has two other former grand slam winners, Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Russian Marat Safin, in his half of the draw as well as French favourite Sebastien Grosjean.
"I know I can play well on clay, I never had any doubts about it," Federer told sports daily l'Equipe.
"I had good results on it, I won Hamburg twice and it's a big tournament on the surface.
"That's why I have high ambitions for Paris, if only because I want to defend my world number one ranking and that I need good results for that," he added.
Federer has lost in the first round in the past two years.
By contrast, Andy
The U.S. Open champion will start his campaign against compatriot Todd Martin in a bottom half of the draw comprising past Roland Garros winners Andre Agassi and Carlos Moya.
Third-seeded Argentine Guillermo Coria, the most successful clay-court specialist this season, is in the same quarter of the draw as Moya.
The other main seeds in Roddick's half are serve-and-volley players like Briton Tim Henman, seeded ninth, and Australian Mark Philippoussis.
In the women's draw, world number one Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne begins her campaign against Frenchwoman Sandrine Testud.
The defending champion will start the tournament after a six-week break because of a virus and said she was not the favourite because of her health problems.
"To resume playing on clay at the French Open without any reference is not easy.
"To be fresh could be a bonus but the absence of matchplay could be a problem. As a result, I'm not the big favourite but I'm coming to defend my chances as far as I can," Henin-Hardenne told l'Equipe.
France's Amelie Mauresmo, the third seed who has won her last two tournaments on clay in Berlin and Rome, was drawn against Slovak Ludmila Cervanova.
Serena and Venus Williams, seeded second and fourth respectively, are in the bottom half of the draw with compatriot Jennifer Capriati.
Martina Navratilova, who last won the tournament in 1984, will make her grand slam singles return against Argentine Gisela Dulko, ranked 61st in the world.