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Swiatek ‘roots for Rafa’ but says right Nadal not seeded at French Open

World number one Iga Swiatek said she’ll be “rooting” for Rafael Nadal at the French Open but insisted it was fair the 14-time champion had not been seeded.

Nadal, ranked a lowly 276 in the world after injury restricted him to just four tournaments since January last year, will face world number four Alexander Zverev in the first round of his farewell appearance.

With an astonishing record of just three losses in 115 matches at Roland Garros since his 2005 debut, there were suggestions that officials should have the discretion to seed former champions.

“No, I think it would create a huge mess in the draws,” said defending women’s champion Swiatek.

“For example, in the women’s draw you have so many past Grand Slam champions, one of them would be seeded, one of them not because they won Wimbledon and not Roland Garros or they won Australian Open, not Roland Garros.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s better to keep it that way, especially because you get seeded because of your past results. By ‘past’ I mean few months before.”

Nadal is not the only unseeded Grand Slam champion at the French Open this year.

Stan Wawrinka, whose 2015 Paris title is one of his three majors, faces fellow three-time Grand Slam champion — and also unseeded — Andy Murray in the first round.

In the women’s tournament, former Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu and Sloane Stephens are also unseeded.

There have, however, been precedents — in 2018, Serena Williams was seeded at 25 for Wimbledon, where she was a seven-time champion, despite a world ranking of 183.

“For sure it’s a tough draw for Rafa, but I’m going to be kind of rooting for him,” added Swiatek. “Sorry, Alex. We’ll see.”

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