FRENCH OPEN 2021: Federer returns; Nadal eyes Slam title 21

Men to watch at the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris:

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Ranked: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 34

2021 Match Record: 16-3 (Entering Belgrade tournament)

2021 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 82

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 18 — French Open (1: 2016), Australian Open (9: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021), Wimbledon (5: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019), U.S. Open (3: 2011, 2015, 2018)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-Runner-Up, 2019-Lost in Semifinals, 2018-Lost in Semifinals, 2017-Lost in Quarterfinals, 2016-Won Championship

Aces: Hopes to surpass rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles in the history of men’s tennis. Just two behind them now. … In March, broke Federer’s record for weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings. … Has reached at least the quarterfinals at Roland Garros every year since 2010, including five finals.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face Federer in the quarterfinals, Nadal in the semifinals.

Words: “It can be very frustrating at times, because sometimes you just feel like maybe you can’t make a winner, you can’t make an easy point with your serve like you usually do on the other surfaces.” — Djokovic, about playing on clay.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 41-10

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RAFAEL NADAL

Ranked: 3

Country: Spain

Age: 34 (Turns 35 on June 3)

2021 Match Record: 18-3

2021 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 88

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — French Open (13: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), Australian Open (1: 2009), Wimbledon (2: 2008, 2010), U.S. Open (4: 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-W, 2019-W, 2018-W, 2017-W, 2016-3rd

Aces: Seeking men’s-record 21st Grand Slam singles title after tying Roger Federer’s mark of 20 by winning a 13th trophy at Roland Garros last October. … 100-2 career record at the French Open, including 28 victories in a row. … 62 of 88 career titles came on clay. … Has won at least one ATP title in a record 18 consecutive seasons.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 19-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy in the fourth round, which would be a rematch from last year in Paris.

Words: “In terms of preparation for Roland Garros, I consider the job done.” — Nadal, after reaching the final in Rome.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 87-100

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DOMINIC THIEM

Ranked: 4

Country: Austria

Age: 27

2021 Match Record: 9-7

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 17

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

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-QF, 2019-RU, 2018-RU, 2017-SF, 2016-SF

Aces: Just a 4-3 record on clay so far this season. … Won his first Grand Slam trophy at the U.S. Open last year. … A three-time major runner-up, including twice at Roland Garros.

Matchup to Watch For: First-round opponent is Pablo Andujar, who beat Roger Federer on red clay in Geneva in May.

Words: “I’m always going to be nervous. That’s how it’s going to be until the end of my career.” — Thiem.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 10-1

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STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Ranked: 5

Country: Greece

Age: 22

2021 Match Record: 338

2021 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 7

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, Australian Open (2019), French Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-SF, 2019-4th, 2018-2nd, 2017-1st , 2016-DNP

Aces: Pushed Djokovic to five sets in the semifinals at Roland Garros last year. … 16-3 on clay in 2020, with three tournament final appearances. … Leads ATP in wins this season.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in the third round.

Words: “Clay is a surface that I love to play and explore my game. The French Open is a tournament that formed good memories last year. … Coming back is going to make me feel the nostalgia.” — Tsitsipas.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 11-2

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ROGER FEDERER

Ranked: 8

Country: Switzerland

Age: 39

2021 Match Record: 1-2

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 103

Grand Slam Singles Titles: Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — French Open (1: 2009), Australian Open (6: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018), Wimbledon (8: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017), U.S. Open (5: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-DNP, 2019-SF, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP

Aces: Participating in his first Grand Slam tournament since the 2020 Australian Open. … Has had two operations on his right knee. … Missed four of the past five French Opens. … His 1,243 match wins are the second most for a man in the professional era, trailing only Jimmy Connors’ 1,274.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face No. 30 seed Taylor Fritz of the U.S. in the third round.

Words: “I’m just realistic and I know I will not win the French — and whoever thought I would, or could, win it is wrong.” — Federer.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 70-1

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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