Nadal favourite at Roland Garros

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The French Open begins on Monday and 18-year-old Rafael Nadal from Spain is the hottest thing on clay this season.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:52 IST
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New Delhi:

The French Open begins on Monday and 18-year-old Rafael Nadal from Spain is the hottest thing on clay this season. After winning his fifth clay court title of the year at the Rome Masters will be making his debut at Roland Garros. Winning streak Nadal who is on a 17 match winning streak however is not letting the pressure get to him. The 18- year-old who missed the Hamburg Masters because of a hand injury faces a tough draw with French wonderkid Richard Gasquet as early as the third round. Clay is definitely not top seed Roger Federer's surface. Federer, who beat Nadal en route to the Nasdaq 100 title earlier this year, has not gone past the quarter finals at Roland Garros, which includes three first round losses. But then no one can count out the Swiss especially given the fact that he did defend his Hamburg Masters title last week. Argentine challenge The Argentines are always a threat at Roland Garros and the final in 2004 was proof of it. Gaston Gaudio got the better of country man Guillermo Coria last time around, and with a win at the Estoril open, the 2004 champions is definitely a man to look out for. But 23-year-old Coria cannot be counted out. He has reached the final of two events this season. The women's draw has had more injury problems than the men's. Serena Williams the Australian Open champion has pulled out because of an ankle injury. 2003 finalist Kim Clijsters has confirmed her participation but her former boy friend Lleyton Hewitt is out because of a rib injury. Defending champion Anastasia Myskina is hoping to be fit in time to defend her title, but the Russian has not shown the kind of form that helped her win her first Grand Slam. So the favourite is Amelie Mauresmo who won the Rome Masters last weekend. She will be looking to become the first Frenchwoman to win at home since Mary Pierce in 2000.

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