Spain's Rafael Nadal and Serbia's Novak Djokovic were placed Friday in the same half of the French Open draw and would meet in the semifinals if both men can avoid an upset.

Those two players played a tight four-set match in last year's final, won by Nadal, and are widely regarded as the two best in the world on clay.

Nadal - winner of Roland Garros a record seven times - is seeded third at the year's second Grand Slam event, while Djokovic, who is seeking his first French Open title, is the top seed and Switzerland's Roger Federer is seeded No. 2.

Federer appears to have a relatively smooth path to the quarterfinals, where he is seeded to play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Swiss could then square off in the semifinals against fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer if both players can get that far.

Nadal's first-round opponent will be Germany's Daniel Brands, whom he has never faced. Barring a shocking upset, Nadal would then face the winner of the match between Slovakia's Martin Klizan and American Michael Russell.

Czech Lukas Rosol, who stunned Nadal in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon, could be the Spaniard's third-round opponent.

Japan's Kei Nishikori is seeded to meet Nadal in the round of 16, while Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka are likely quarterfinal opponents for the Spaniard.

Djokovic, who captured the Australian Open in January and is looking to become the first men's player since 1992 to win the first two Grand Slam events of the season, could meet Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, who upset him at last week's Rome Masters, in the third round.

Ferrer is in a challenging quarter of the draw and would likely have to defeat either Czech Tomas Berdych or darkhorse Ernests Gulbis of Latvia to reach the semifinals.

The French Open, the premier clay-court event of the tennis season, gets underway on Sunday. EFE