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Nadal begins pursuit of title; Kyrgios ready to play through pain

Last updated on: May 29, 2017 11:38 IST
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Nadal begins pursuit of 10th French Open title

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal of Spain. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images.

Claycourt phenomenon Rafael Nadal returns to his favourite tournament, albeit not his preferred court, to begin pursuit of a record-extending 10th French Open title on Monday against Frenchman Benoit Paire.

The Spaniard, seeded fourth, will play his opening match in Paris on Court Suzanne Lenglen, and not the main Philippe Chatrier showcourt where he lifted the Musketeers Cup for the ninth time in 2014.

Paire has his fans, including 2015 champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who describes the Frenchman as a "very talented" player who "does a lot of things very well".

Nadal, however, has been in imperious form this season, losing only one match on clay.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is second on Chatrier in what could be a taxing outing against claycourt specialist Marcel Granollers.

Opening proceedings on the main court is defending champion Garbine Muguruza. The out-of-form Spaniard faces a tricky encounter against 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

If she loses, Muguruza will become only the second female defending champion to exit the tournament in the first round after Russian Anastasia Myskina in 2005.

Rising talent Alexander Zverev, the ninth seed from Germany, takes on Spain's Fernando Verdasco, while home favourite Kristina Mladenovic, a finalist in Stuttgart and Madrid this year, faces American Jennifer Brady.

Battling Kyrgios ready to play through pain

Nick Kyrgios

IMAGE: Nick Kyrgios of Australia looks on. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Nick Kyrgios is having a "hard time" with hip and shoulder injuries but the Australian said he has done all he can to be ready for his French Open first round match against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old firebrand, seeded 18th at Roland Garros, was forced to pull out of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome with a hip problem and was dumped out of the first round in Lyon last week to a rank outsider.

A separate injury to his serving shoulder has further complicated things for the moody talent, who has been receiving physiotherapy every day in the leadup to the second Grand Slam of the season.

Kyrgios has long had problems with his right hip and said the latest injury was similar to the one that forced him to retire during his third round match at the US Open last year.

“Obviously my body’s giving me a bit of a hard time at the moment, but I’m ready to play,” Kyrgios told Australian media.

“It’s the same sort of stuff as the US Open. A couple of things going on, but then nothing major that I have to instantly pull out or anything like that.

“I can work through it."

Kyrgios was also hampered by a knee problem in the leadup to the Australian Open and was receiving cortisone injections to try to settle the injury before he crashed out of the second round to Andreas Seppi.

He said he was being spared injections in Paris but was getting "a lot of treatment" on the hip, an injury which he hoped would not trouble him throughout his career.

There was little prospect of it settling in the short-term, however.

“I think you can get rid of it. It probably needs some rest and then I can sort of build up again. That’s how it’s going to get away,” he said.

"But at this stage it's a tough period. Obviously I haven’t had much rest.

“We’ll see after this week how it pulls up and then obviously my main focus is Wimbledon.

"The grass suits my game most and I enjoy London and I enjoy playing there, so I think the grass is obviously my best chance.”

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