21 May 2011

Djokovic and Federer headed for semi-final clash

6:56 am on 21 May 2011

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were placed on a French Open semi-final collision course as defending champion Rafael Nadal was handed an opener against Wimbledon marathon man John Isner.

The world No.2 Djokovic, on a run of 37 successive wins this year, was placed in the same half of the draw for the second grand slam event of the season as Federer, the 2009 champion and 16-time major winner.

Both men are seeded to reach the last four at Roland Garros, but despite the Serb's undefeated run in 2011, which has left him just five wins shy of John McEnroe's 1984 mark of 42, Federer will be feeling undaunted.

The third seeded Swiss has lost his last three meetings to Djokovic, but Federer still holds a career 13-9 winning record over the Serb and is 2-1 on clay.

Nadal, however, leads Federer 16-8 in head-to-heads, 11-2 on clay and is 4-0 at Roland Garros.

The world No.1 Spaniard, bidding to equal Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles, tackles giant American Isner in his opener.

Djokovic, twice a semi-finalist in Paris, begins his campaign against Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, the world No.71, while Federer faces Spain's Feliciano Lopez.

The world No.4 Andy Murray, who was within two points of beating Djokovic in the Rome Masters semi-finals last week, faces a qualifier in his first round.

The former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who made the 2009 semi-finals before losing a five-setter to Federer, is a dangerous floater in the draw and the big Argentine tackles Ivo Karlovic in his opener.

Missing from the draw, however, was America's former world No.1 Andy Roddick and Spain's 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero who both pulled with right shoulder injuries.