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Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 13:55 UK
Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June




French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
Coverage:
BBC TV, BBCi, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has yet to suffer a defeat at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal played down comparisons with fellow clay-court great Bjorn Borg on the eve of his bid for a fourth consecutive French Open title.

The Spaniard, 21, has won all 21 matches he has played at Roland Garros and opens his defence against qualifier Thomaz Belluci on Monday or Tuesday.

A fourth title would see Nadal join Borg as the only four-in-a-row winner.

"I think right now it's impossible to compare, because he has more titles than me," said Nadal.

"He won more Roland Garros titles."

Borg won the last of his six French Open crowns in 1981, four years before Nadal was born.

The Spaniard's main rivals are expected to be world number one Roger Federer, the man he has beaten in Paris for the last three years, and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic opens against Denis Gremelmary on Sunday, while Federer must wait at least 24 hours to face American Sam Querrey.

"It would be stupid for me to say something about Roger being a good clay-court player," said Nadal.

"If you see his results - four times winning in Hamburg, three finals in Monte Carlo, two finals in Rome, two more finals here, one semi-final here. The numbers are very impressive.

"With those numbers, you are one of the best clay-court players."

Federer has endured a poor year to date by his own high standards, with just one title to his name, but he feels his form is coming good at the right time.

606: DEBATE
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"I think things are looking much better," he said. "It was tough at the beginning of the year but I have definitely bounced back these last few months.

"I'm feeling where I want to be shortly before a really important stretch of tournaments. That starts here in Paris, so I feel good about my chances.

"I'm moving so well, and I haven't any problems after playing a lot of matches. I know I can beat him (Nadal). All the chances are here for me to win it."

The women's event looks wide open following the shock retirement of defending champion Justine Henin on the eve of the tournament.

Speaking at Roland Garros on Saturday, the Belgian confirmed: "I don't think I will ever come back. I think that it's important to just to move on."

Her exit has left Maria Sharapova at the top of the rankings, but the Russian is at her least comfortable on clay and pulled out of her scheduled Italian Open semi-final against Jelena Jankovic last week because of a calf strain.

Sharapova has been back on Philippe Chatrier Court already this week
It's quite amazing to be 21 years old and have somebody tell you that it's the only Grand Slam that you haven't won

Maria Sharapova

However, Sharapova expects to be fit to challenge for the one major title that still eludes her.

Sharapova will play fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina in her opening match on Monday or Tuesday.

"To be quite honest, it's quite amazing to be 21 years old and have somebody tell you that it's the only Grand Slam that you haven't won," she said.

"I've always said it, it's the toughest one - it's always going to be in my career - to win. But that's why I'm here. I've said it every single year. I love the challenges."

The top seed should be pushed by Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, as well as 2002 champion Serena Williams.

"It's probably the best preparation I've had since 2002. I feel like I've played so many clay court tournaments," said Williams.

"I just really am feeling like a real clay-court player, which, I think, is important for me. I'm really comfortable out there on the clay, so it's great."


see also
Murray handed early Paris start
24 May 08 |  Tennis
Davenport is out of French Open
20 May 08 |  Tennis
Murray will make it, says Ancic
23 May 08 |  Tennis
Murray turns up the heat
22 May 08 |  Tennis


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