Well, here’s a new one for the ‘big three’ of men’s tennis: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have all ended up in the same half of the French Open field.
Thursday’s draw in Paris marks the first time in their long and distinguished careers that the trio with 58 grand slam singles titles between them have ended on the same side of the bracket at any slam.
It means that no more than one of them can reach the final at Roland Garros, where play begins on Sunday.
They top the leaderboard for major men’s singles tennis titles: Federer and Nadal are tied at 20 trophies, while Djokovic has 18. No-one else has more than 14.
Nadal beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final for his record-extending 13th championship on the French Open’s red clay, but if they meet again this time, it would have to be in the semifinals.
Djokovic is seeded No.1, and Nadal is seeded No.3 – the seedings adhere strictly to the ATP rankings, so the Spaniard’s unprecedented previous success in Paris is irrelevant.
The only certainties before the draw were that Djokovic would be on one side and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on the other; Nadal and No. 4 Dominic Thiem were randomly placed and could have shown up in either half.
What no-one knows is how many more grand slam tournaments will feature all three of the sport’s top men.
Federer, whose record for most weeks at No.1 in the ATP rankings recently was broken by Djokovic, turns 40 on August 8. Nadal’s 35th birthday is next week; Djokovic’s 34th was last week.
Federer is currently ranked No.8 after playing only three matches over the past 15 months because of two operations on his right knee. He could meet Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
The other possible quarter-final on their side is Nadal against No.7 Andrey Rublev.
The two remaining potential quarter-finals are Medvedev versus No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Thiem against No.6 Alexander Zverev.