Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

Rafael-Nadal

Rafael Nadal of Spain. (Manu Fernandez/AP)

PARIS — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting.

The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form.

Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay.

"It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I’m very happy to find myself in this situation."

In the women’s draw, Simona Halep will open the defence of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw and will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round.

Roger Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz.

The tournament starts on Sunday.

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