Jordan Thompson draws Rafael Nadal at French Open as Australians find out their Roland Garros fate
Sydney’s Jordan Thompson will have to conquer 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in his French Open fortress to make it out of round one in Paris for the first time in three years.
Nadal is looking to back up his unlikely Australian Open title while snatching back his Roland Garros crown, after world No.1 Novak Djokovic came from a set down to beat him in last year’s semi-finals.
The Spanish superstar’s 105-4 record at the claycourt grand slam is the most dominant record of any player at the four majors.
Thompson is ranked a more-modest 82 in the world but has carved out a good career as a top-100 fixture for the past four years who has also represented Australia in the Davis Cup.
The 28-year-old made it to the round of 32 at the 2019 French Open but lost his only prior clash with fifth-seeded Nadal in straight sets at the Paris Masters, on an indoor hardcourt, two years ago.
At least 11 Australians will contest the Roland Garros singles draws across the next fortnight, with Seone Mendez trying to increase that to 12 in her final-round qualifying match on Friday night.
Jason Kubler qualified for his first French Open with a 7-5 6-2 defeat of Portugal’s Pedro Sousa on Thursday.
“It feels unreal. This was the last slam where I hadn’t played a main draw,” Kubler said.
“Luckily, I got a wildcard into Aussie, and then another into US and then I qualified for Wimby, so it’s nice to have qualified for another one.”
John Millman also drew a seed in his opener, No.27 Sebastian Korda, an American rising star, while Ajla Tomljanovic takes on fifth seed Anett Kontaveit in her first grand slam as Australia’s top-ranked women’s player.
There could be an all-Australian affair in the second round if Tomljanovic upsets Kontaveit, and Astra Sharma can account for Russia’s Varvara Gracheva.
Australia’s Alex de Minaur is the 19th seed at this year’s tournament and has a gilt-edged opportunity to advance beyond round two for the first time.
de Minaur is amid a career-best claycourt season, including reaching the Barcelona semi-finals and the last 16 at Rome before advancing to this week’s Lyon semi-finals.
He starts against 68th-ranked Frenchman Hugo Gaston and is projected to play a qualifier in his second match before a potential showdown with No.14 seed Denis Shapovalov.
Wildcard Chris O’Connell will hope to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas for the second time in as many weeks and could face Djokovic in round three, while Thanasi Kokkinakis could lock horns with red-hot Carlos Alcaraz in round two.
Alexei Popyrin warmed up for his French Open tilt with an impressive Challenger triumph in Bordeaux ahead of his first-round clash with Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini.
James Duckworth is on the comeback trail from hip surgery after the Australian Open, with Swede Mikael Ymer in his way.
Resurgent Daria Saville drew a qualifier in her opener but may need to overcome Petra Kvitova and Ons Jabeur in her next two matches.
WHO THE AUSSIES DREW
Men: WC-Chris O’Connell v Aljaz Bedene
Alexei Popyrin v Fabio Fognini
Jordan Thompson v 5-Rafael Nadal
John Millman v 27-Sebastian Korda
Thanasi Kokkinakis v Albert Ramos-Vinolas
19-Alex de Minaur v Hugo Gaston
James Duckworth v Mikael Ymer
Q-Jason Kubler v TBC
Women: WC-Daria Saville v qualifier
Ajla Tomljanovic v 5-Anett Kontaveit
Astra Sharma v Varvara Gracheva
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails