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Nadal opens Wimbledon against Russell

June 17, 2011 at 8:12 AM   |   Comments

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LONDON, June 17 (UPI) -- Rafael Nadal will open defense of his Wimbledon title against American Michael Russell, tournament officials said Friday in releasing the men's singles draw.

Nadal, the world's top-ranked player and the winner of two of the last three tournaments at Wimbledon, has never played Russell, a 33-year-old veteran who is yet to win an ATP title.

The men's draw split the top 16 seeds evenly between the top and bottom halves of the bracket.

Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych in last year's final but that won't be the matchup July 3 in the 2011 final because Berdych, if the draw plays out, would meet Nadal in the quarterfinals.

Also in the top half of the draw is fourth-seeded Andy Murray, who is a potential semifinal foe for Nadal. Eighth-seeded Andy Roddick and No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are in Murray's quarter.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic, 41-1 this year, has fifth-seeded Robin Soderling in his quarter of the draw, with possible semifinal opponent third-seeded Roger Federer and No. 7-seed David Ferrer also in his half.

Federer is the only player to have beaten Djokovic this year and has six Wimbledon titles among his 16 Grand Slam championships. However, Federer hasn't won a major tournament since the 2010 Australian Open.

In an interesting twist, the draw has John Isner playing Nicolas Mahut in the first round -- the same matchup that last year produced the longest match in Grand Slam history. Isner won that time 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68.

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