PARIS -- Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if Nadal makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting.
The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form.
Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay.
"It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament; I'm very happy to find myself in this situation."
In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round.
Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup.
Federer is back on clay after skipping that part of the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury.