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Injury-hit Nadal to face Clement

June 19, 2009 17:46 IST

World number one Rafael Nadal will begin the defence of his title at Wimbledon against Frenchman Arnaud Clement as long as his painful knees hold up.

Nadal is due to play an exhibition match on Friday before deciding whether he will take part in the year's third Grand Slam, which he won for the first time last year after a mesmeric five-set final against Roger Federer.

Nadal would open his campaign against the world number 49 and could face 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the second round after the draw was made at the All England Club on Friday.

Facing the Australian so early in the tournament is unlikely to be a welcome sight for Nadal as he was beaten by Hewitt in an exhibition match on Thursday.

If that was not bad enough, big-serving American and sixth seed Andy Roddick, twice a runner-up in London, could be lying in wait in the quarter-finals.

French Open champion Federer, in pursuit of a record 15th Grand Slam title, will open his account against Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun.

However, he will have noted that he could run into Roland Garros runner-up Robin Soderling for the second time in less than a month in the last 16. Big-serving Croatian dangerman Ivo Karlovic lurks as a potential last-eight opponent.


British third seed Andy Murray, hoping to become the first home winner of the men's title since Fred Perry in 1936 and a potential semi-final opponent for Nadal, faces American Robert Kendrick in his opener.

On paper it might appear to be a gentle start for Murray but Kendrick took Nadal to five sets in the second round in 2006 and the Briton is unlikely to underestimate the threat he poses.

His quarter of the draw also includes 2008 semi-finalist Marat Safin, who is making his last appearance in London.

World number four Novak Djokovic will take on Frenchman Julien Benneteau and was drawn in the same half of the draw as Federer.

Defending women's champion and third seed Venus Williams, who is the favourite to win a sixth singles title at the grasscourt championships, faces Swiss Stefanie Voegele and could line up against world number one Dinara Safina in the semis.

There could be an all-Williams final showdown at Wimbledon for the second year running since the American sisters were picked in separate halves of the draw.

Second seed Serena Williams, the US and Australian Opens holder, will begin against Portuguese qualifier Neuza Silva and could face a quarter-final showdown against 2004 champion Maria Sharapova.

The top-half draw looks more treacherous for Venus since Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova all have the potential to trip her up if she has an off day.

Kuznetsova will first face Japan's Akiko Morigami and could run into Safina in the last eight in a repeat of the Roland Garros final.

Safina may, however, have to survive a fourth-round showdown with 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo if she wants to earn a chance to gain revenge.

Wimbledon starts on Monday.

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