Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a fifth French Open title today with a first-round match against Gianni Mina, the French teenager. The world No 2 dominated on the French clay between 2005 and 2008, before being shocked by Robin Soderling in the fourth round last year to suffer his first loss at Roland Garros. That defeat still rankles with him. He told USA Today: "I lost there, and I didn't feel well enough to try to win another title. That's always difficult to accept."
But impressive form in the build-up to this year's tournament, which culminated in him winning the Madrid Masters earlier this month, means that he is the pre-tournament favourite and will be expected to sweep aside his 18-year-old opponent when they meet on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Early action on Court Philippe Chatrier sees the return of Justine Henin to Roland Garros for the first time since she last won the tournament here in 2007.
The four-time winner in France retired in 2008 but made an impressive return to the sport at the end of last year and got to the final of the Australian Open in her first grand slam back on the WTA Tour in January, although she lost out to Serena Williams. The Belgian 23rd seed takes on Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria. Maria Sharapova, Henin's possible third-round opponent, also begins her campaign today. She takes on her Russian compatriot Ksenia Pervak.
Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco both make their first appearances in other notable match-ups on the third day of action in the French capital. Roddick, the sixth seed who has never been beyond the fourth round in Paris on what is undeniably his weakest surface, starts off against the Finnish player Jarkko Nieminen. Verdasco, the Spanish seventh seed, is seen as the most likely man to trouble Nadal in the bottom half of the draw after winning the Barcelona Open.
He plays the Russian Igor Kunitsyn. * Compiled by Graham Caygill, with agencies