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French Open 2024 draw: Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray in blockbuster first-round ties

Sports Mole looks at the headline from the 2024 French Open draw, including mouthwatering first-round matches for Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

The second Grand Slam of the 2024 tennis season is almost upon us, as the finest players the globe has to offer convene on the clay for this year's highly-anticipated French Open.

Iga Swiatek and Novak Djokovic arrive at Roland-Garros with their 2023 titles to defend, while Jannik Sinner and Aryna Sabalenka are in pursuit of a major double for the 2024 term, having both come up trumps in January's Australian Open.

However, even before the first racquet is swung in the main draw, the swansong of 14-time champion Rafael Nadal is undeniably the biggest headline, while Andy Murray might be seen for the last time at Roland-Garros as well, but there will be no Emma Raducanu as she prioritises the grass-court season.

Great Britain are still well-represented among the main-draw competitors, though, and following Thursday's ceremony, Sports Mole runs down the key stories and matches to watch at the 2024 French Open.

Swiatek on Osaka collision course, Boulter to face Badosa

Iga Swiatek poses with the trophy after winning the Italian Open on May 18, 2024© Reuters

While Swiatek will commence the defence of her crown against a lucky loser or qualifier, the world number one could pit her wits against a fellow four-time Grand Slam winner in just her second match, finding herself on a collision course with Naomi Osaka.

The two-time US Open and Australian Open winner - who has never gone past the third round at Roland-Garros - enters via a protected ranking and opens her campaign against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti for the right to meet Swiatek in the second round.

The Pole has arrived in Paris on the back of achieving Madrid Open and Italian Open glory - defeating second seed Sabalenka in both finals - and the Belarusian's quest for vengeance begins against Russia's Erika Andreeva in round one.

Andreeva is the older sister of teenage phenom Mirra Andreeva, who faces the USA's Emina Bektas in her opening contest and is in the same section as Great Britain's Harriet Dart, who drew Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu.

Katie Boulter reacts at the San Diego Open on March 3, 2024© Reuters

Due to the withdrawals of both Raducanu and Jodie Burrage, Dart is just one of two British women in the main draw alongside Katie Boulter - the 26th seed - but her first-round battle is a particularly unnerving one too.

The British number one will take on Spain's Paula Badosa, who also enters via a protected ranking and achieved her best Grand Slam result at the 2021 French Open, progressing to the quarter-finals one year before reaching her career-high ranking of world number two.

Other noteworthy ties in the women's draw include Elina Svitolina's first-round match with former world number one Karolina Pliskova, while Danielle Collins - enjoying a terrific final season on the tour - opens against compatriot Caroline Dolehide.

Third seed Coco Gauff, who lost to Swiatek in the 2022 final, will take on a qualifier or lucky loser in her maiden battle, while Elena Rybakina faces Greet Minnen.

Nadal to meet Zverev, Murray faces former champion

Rafael Nadal reacts at the Madrid Open on April 30, 2024© Reuters

The Nadal farewell tour is already in full swing, but unless the ageing Spaniard can quickly return to his former glories at Roland-Garros, he could very well suffer his first-ever first-round defeat at his beloved French Open.

Indeed, the 14-time champion has been handed a daunting opening battle against fourth seed Alexander Zverev, a three-time Roland-Garros semi-finalist fresh from triumphing at the Italian Open, his first Masters crown since 2021.

The tantalising battle serves as a rematch of the 2022 semi-final, where Zverev suffered the severe ankle injury that curtailed his season before Nadal won his most recent major crown against Casper Ruud in the final.

While Nadal's clash with Zverev pits a veteran against a player in his prime, two men with a combined age of 76 will slog it out in another mouthwatering first-round tie, as Murray and Stan Wawrinka cross paths for 23rd and potentially the final time at the top level.

Andy Murray reacts at the Miami Open on March 23, 2024© Reuters

Should Murray get the better of his Swiss foe, an all-British tie with national number one Cameron Norrie could be on the cards in round two; the 32nd seed is up against Russia's Pavel Kotov in round one.

Thirty-nine-year-old Wawrinka famously conquered Roland-Garros in 2015 and also faced Murray in the 2016 and 2017 semis - losing the former and prevailing in the latter - but the Briton won their most recent meeting at the 2022 Cincinnati Masters.

Elsewhere, holder Djokovic begins his defence against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while Carlos Alcaraz and Sinner return from injury against a lucky loser/qualifier and Christopher Eubanks respectively.

Two other unseeded Brits in Jack Draper and Dan Evans are also present in the main draw; the former will meet a lucky loser or qualifier first up, while Evans will be up against it in his opener with 13th seed Holger Rune.

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Rafael Nadal reacts at the Madrid Open on April 30, 2024
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