Tennis

4-time major champion Naomi Osaka draws rematch in return to French Open

Naomi Osaka's return to the French Open will be a tough test against the player who beat her at the Australian Open, Amanda Anisimova.

Canada's Andreescu, Fernandez may meet early; Auger-Aliassime could face Nadal, Djokovic before semis

Naomi Osaka drew a matchup with Amanda Anisimova, who beat her at the Australian Open, in the French Open bracket that was revealed on Thursday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka's return to the French Open will be a tough test against the player who beat her at the Australian Open, Amanda Anisimova.

They were paired in the bracket during Thursday's draw at Roland Garros for the clay-court major tennis tournament.

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion who used to be No. 1 in the rankings but has slipped to No. 38 in part because of a lack of activity. That included time off for a mental health break after she withdrew from Roland Garros ahead of her second-round match last year, revealing that she has dealt with anxiety and depression.

Because she is not seeded at the French Open, where play begins Sunday, she was not safe from facing a seeded opponent right away, so that's what will happen against No. 27 Anisimova.

Anisimova won their third-round encounter at Melbourne Park in January by a score of 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

The possible women's quarter-finals in Paris are No. 1 seed and 2020 champion Iga Swiatek against two-time major runner-up Karolina Pliskova, defending champion Barbora Krejcikova against Anett Kontaveit, Paula Badosa against Aryna Sabalenka, and Ons Jabeur against Maria Sakkari.

A pair of Canadians could crash that final potential matchup, with No. 17 Leylah Fernandez lined up to face No. 72 Bianca Andreescu in the third round.

Nadal, Djokovic, Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime on same half

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz all were placed on the same half of the men's bracket, along with Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Djokovic, who is the defending champion and seeded No. 1, could meet 13-time champion Nadal in the quarter-finals. Djokovic beat Nadal in the semifinals a year ago.

Nadal leads the Grand Slam title standings among men with 21, one ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer. This will be Djokovic's first major tournament since last year's U.S. Open; he was not allowed to play in the Australian Open because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

If that Djokovic-Nadal showdown happens, it would require the Spaniard to beat Auger-Aliassime the round prior. The winner could face No. 6 seed Alcaraz in the semifinals. Alcaraz is just 19, recently won the Madrid Open on clay and became the youngest man to break into the top 10 in the rankings since Nadal in 2005.

Alcaraz could meet No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev in quarter-finals. The potential quarter-finals on the other half of the bracket are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev against No. 7 Andrey Rublev in a matchup between two Russians who will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon because of that country's invasion of Ukraine, and 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas against No. 8 Casper Ruud.

Richmond Hill, Ont., native Denis Shapovalov could meet Tsitsipas in the fourth round.

With files from CBC Sports

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