Another Sister Act In Paris??

By Howard Fendrich
Updated: May 22, 2009

PARIS – Serena and Venus Williams were drawn into opposite sides of the French Open field Friday, while the men’s semifinals could pit four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal against Andy Murray, and Roger Federer against Novak Djokovic.

Second-seeded Serena — one of two past women’s champions in the tournament — will meet Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic in the first round. Third-seeded Venus faces Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States in her opener.

The Williams sisters can only meet in the championship match. Serena beat Venus in the 2002 final.

Top-ranked Dinara Safina of Russia starts against Anne Keothavong of Britain.

Maria Sharapova will play Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus in her first Grand Slam match since Wimbledon last year. Sharapova returned to the tour this week after missing nearly 10 months due to a shoulder injury and is not seeded.

Trying to become the first man to win five consecutive French Opens, top-seeded Nadal will begin against a qualifier. He could meet past No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the third round, and 14th-seeded David Ferrer in the fourth.

Hewitt’s first match is against No. 26 Ivo Karlovic, the 6-foot-11 player from Croatia who upset him in the first round at Wimbledon in 2003, when Hewitt was the reigning champion.

Federer’s bid to tie Pete Sampras with a record 14 major singles title will start against Alberto Martin of Spain. Murray’s first opponent is Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, whose four career tour titles all came on clay and who once was ranked 15th.

The potential men’s quarterfinals are Nadal vs. No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, Murray vs. No. 7 Gilles Simon, Federer vs. No. 6 Andy Roddick, and Djokovic vs. No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro.

David Nalbandian, Carlos Moya and Mario Ancic are among the men who withdrew. The International Tennis Federation had said Dmitry Tursunov would pull out because of a heel injury, but Tursunov was in Friday’s draw, seeded 21st.

The possible women’s quarterfinals are Safina vs. defending champion Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams vs. No. 6 Vera Zvonareva, Serena Williams vs. No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova, and No. 4 Elena Dementieva vs. No. 5 Jelena Jankovic.

Play begins Sunday.