Novak Djokovic could face world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals of the French Open after both players were placed in the same half of the draw on Thursday.
Djokovic is chasing a record 23rd men’s Grand Slam title in the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal, who will miss the tournament at Roland Garros for the first time since his 2005 title-winning debut.
The third-seeded Djokovic, Roland Garros champion in 2016 and 2021, meets 114th-ranked Aleksandar Kovacevic of the US in the first round in Paris – the first French Open since 1998 without Nadal or the now retired Roger Federer.
The 24-year-old Kovacevic is making his Grand Slam main draw debut.
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Djokovic, who turned 36 on Monday, has been bothered by a recurrence of a right elbow injury which has disrupted his clay-court season.
He failed to go beyond the last eight at any of the three events he played on clay this spring, losing his No 1 spot to Alcaraz.
Djokovic has also fallen behind Daniil Medvedev in the rankings after the Russian succeeded him as Italian Open champion last weekend.
US Open champion Alcaraz and Medvedev both start their Roland Garros campaigns against a qualifier or lucky loser.
Alcaraz faces a challenging path to a second Grand Slam title, with Lorenzo Musetti a possible last-16 foe before 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas potentially awaits him in the quarterfinals.
For Djokovic to set up a blockbuster last-four clash with Alcaraz he may need to get past Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev in the quarters.
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