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FRENCH OPEN 2020: Nadal eyes 20th Slam title, Djokovic 18th

Men to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday:


Seeded: 1

Ranked: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 33

2020 Match Record: 31-1

2020 Singles Titles: 4

Career Singles Titles: 81

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — French Open (1: 2016), Australian Open (8: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020), Wimbledon (5: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019), U.S. Open (3: 2011, 2015, 2018)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-Lost in Semifinals, 2018-QF, 2017-QF, 2016-Won Championship, 2015-Runner-Up

Aces: Resumes bid for Grand Slam title No. 18 — which would put him two behind Roger Federer, one behind Rafael Nadal -- after being disqualified at the U.S. Open. ... Returned to competition at Italian Open, which he won for a record 36th Masters 1000 trophy, breaking a tie with Nadal. ... Passed Pete Sampras this week for second place behind Federer in list of most weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings.

Matchup to Watch For: Could play No. 15 seed Karen Khachanov in 4th round.

Words: “Pete was my childhood idol growing up, so of course surpassing his records is very special to me. I always looked up to him, and I wished to be mentally strong and resilient as he is, especially in the big tournaments, in the big moments.” — Djokovic on Sampras.


Seeded: 2

Ranked: 2

Country: Spain

Age: 34

2020 Match Record: 15-4

2020 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 85

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 19 — French Open (12: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019), Australian Open (1: 2009), Wimbledon (2: 2008, 2010), U.S. Open (4: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-W, 2018-W, 2017-W, 2016-3rd, 2015-QF

Aces: Went 6½ months — from end of February to mid-September — between matches. ... Bidding to tie Federer’s record for men of 20 Grand Slam singles titles. If he does that, would extend his own mark for most titles at any major tournament; a 13th trophy in Paris would give him a higher total at that one event than all but three other men in history have won at all the Slams. ... Only losses at Roland Garros came in fourth round to Robin Soderling in 2009, and in quarterfinals to Djokovic in 2015; pulled out of 2016 tournament because of a wrist injury.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in 3rd round, John Isner (who pushed Nadal to 5 sets in Paris in 2011) in 4th.

Words: “I had to come back very slow. After two months without touching a racket, I needed to make things step by step, trying to avoid injuries.” — Nadal on resuming practice after the pandemic lockdown.


Seeded: 3

Ranked: 3

Country: Austria

Age: 27

2020 Match Record: 16-5

2020 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 17

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-RU, 2018-RU, 2017-SF, 2016-SF, 2015-2nd

Aces: Coming off his first Grand Slam title, rallying to win the U.S. Open final after dropping the first two sets; no one had won that tournament in that fashion in 71 years. ... 10 titles came on clay. ... 22-4 at French Open over past 4 years; 3 losses to Nadal, 1 to Djokovic.

Matchup to Watch For: Faces 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in 1st round; could play big server Reilly Opelka in 2nd.

Words: “The pressure got bigger and bigger, somehow, and it’s all gone now, obviously, because no matter what happens from now on, I can always say that I’m a U.S. Open champion. That’s absolutely amazing to me.” — Thiem.


Seeded: 4

Ranked: 5

Country: Russia

Age: 24

2020 Match Record: 15-7

2020 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 7

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-1st, 2018-1st, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP

Aces: Despite all of his quick strides and climb up the rankings, has yet to win a match at Roland Garros in three appearances. ... Lost his opening match on clay at the Hamburg Open this week after making a run to the U.S. Open semifinals.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face No. 13 seed Andrey Rublev, a long-time friend, in 4th round rematch of U.S. Open quarterfinal — but neither ever has won a French Open match.

Words: “Months ago, (if) someone would tell me I would make semis of U.S. Open, I would be super happy, because I was not feeling great about my game, great about my physical shape. I had, I want to say, huge troubles in practice. I was like, ‘OK, how I’m going to play?’" — Medvedev.


Seeded: 6

Ranked: 7

Country: Germany

Age: 23

2020 Match Record: 12-7

2020 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 11

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-QF, 2018-QF, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd, 2015-DNP

Aces: Made Grand Slam semifinal debut at 2020 Australian Open, then reached final of U.S. Open before losing to Thiem in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Will be fascinating to see if he can put that disappointment behind him. ... Averaged 5.9 double-faults in 2019, second-most on tour.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face No. 25 seed Alex De Minaur in 3rd round.

Words: “Yeah, I mean, I’m 23 years old. I don’t think it’s my last chance. I do believe that I will be a Grand Slam champion at some point.” — Zverev after loss in U.S. Open final.



Ranked: 111

Country: Britain

Age: 33

2020 Match Record: 3-2

2020 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 46

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 — Wimbledon (2: 2013, 2016), U.S. Open (1: 2012)

Last 5 French Opens: 2019-DNP, 2018-DNP, 2017-SF, 2016-RU, 2015-SF

Aces: Given a wild-card entry; only man not from France to receive one. ... Still working his way back from two hip operations; second-round showing at U.S. Open was first competition since November. ... Reached at least the semifinals in past 4 appearances in Paris, and 5 of last 6, but he hasn't entered the tournament since 2017.

Matchup to Watch For: Faces 3-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in 1st round

Words: “The more tournaments that you play, the more matches that you play, you build up that sort of robustness in your body, which right now I don’t really have.” — Murray.

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