PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal's path to a record-extending ninth French Open title could take him through a series of matches against the men who beat him on clay this season.
The top-seeded Nadal was drawn Friday to possibly face No. 21 Nicolas Almagro in the fourth round, then No. 5 David Ferrer in the quarterfinals.
"Those are opponents that know how to play well on clay," Nadal said. "But it's never easy."
The other men's quarterfinal matchups could be No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka vs. No. 7 Andy Murray, and No. 4 Roger Federer vs. No. 6 Tomas Berdych.
The possible women's quarterfinals are No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 7 Maria Sharapova in what would be a rematch of last year's final won by Williams, No. 2 Li Na vs. No. 6 Jelena Jankovic, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 8 Angelique Kerber, and No. 4 Simona Halep vs. No. 5 Petra Kvitova.
Ferrer, who lost to Nadal in the 2013 final at Roland Garros, upset him in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals last month. Almagro ended Nadal's 41-match winning streak in Barcelona by beating him in the quarterfinals there a week later.
Those defeats were both in best-of-three-set matches. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, uses a best-of-five format for men, and Nadal was asked Friday whether that gives him an advantage on clay.
"I give my most every point, every game, every set. Whether it's (best of) three or five, if you want to win, you have to play well," he said.
Nadal has three losses on clay in a season for the first time since 2004, when he was only 17 and had yet to play a match at the French Open. He was beaten in the Rome final last weekend by Djokovic; they only could meet in the final in Paris.
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