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S. Williams out of French Open

THE BALTIMORE SUN

PARIS - There were two great disappointments as the French Open draw unfolded yesterday. First was the withdrawal of Serena Williams because of an ankle injury.

Then, there was the fact that Spanish teenager Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are on the same side of the draw and thus unable to meet in the final.

Williams, who won the Australian Open, sprained her left ankle in mid-April. She tried playing in the Italian Open last week, but lost her opening match to Francesca Schiavone in straight sets.

The best women players, who last year were looking over their shoulders at the Russians marching toward the top, this year will be looking back at the growing specter of Justine Henin-Hardenne.

The 5-foot-5 Belgian, finally recovered from a viral infection and knee injury, has won 17 straight matches, all on clay, and her 6-2, 6-4 win over Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals in Berlin makes her the clear favorite here.

She will open against Conchita Martinez, whom she has beaten all six times they've met, with four love sets.

On the men's side, it became clear that if Nadal is to become the first man in 23 years to win the French Open on his first try, it will come only after two weeks of great labor.

Yesterday, he drew Lars Burgsmuller of Germany in the first round and, having swept him in Indian Wells, Calif., a year ago, shouldn't be bothered by him on clay, a surface on which Nadal is 31-2 this season.

After that, things get progressively more difficult - through probably Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the third round, Sebastien Grosjean in the fourth, defending champion Gaston Gaudio in the quarterfinals and Federer in the semifinals.

None of this unfriendly draw, however, has tended to make Nadal, who will turn 19 on June 3, any less a favorite to become the first male since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win in his Roland Garros debut.

No one in the men's tournament profited more by the draw than Andre Agassi, 35, whose most threatening opponents through to the semifinals are Guillermo Canas and Ivan Ljubicic.

Andy Roddick, who splits time between Austin, Texas, and Boca Raton, Fla., is seeded second and will face French teenager Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round. If he gets by Tsonga, he'll probably play Argentinian Jose Acasuso in the second.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

French Open Seeds

Men

1. Roger Federer, Switzerland 2. Andy Roddick, United States 3. Marat Safin, Russia 4. Rafael Nadal, Spain 5. Gaston Gaudio, Argentina 6. Andre Agassi, United States 7. Tim Henman, Britain 8. Guillermo Coria, Argentina 9. Guillermo Canas, Argentina 10. David Nalbandian, Argentina 11. J. Johansson, Sweden (withdrew) 12. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia 13. Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia 14. Carlos Moya, Spain 15. Tommy Robredo, Spain 16. Radek Stepanek, Czech Republic 17. Dominik Hrbaty, Slovakia 18. Mario Ancic, Croatia 19. Thomas Johansson, Sweden 20. David Ferrer, Spain 21. Tommy Haas, Germany 22. Nicolas Massu, Chile 23. Sebastien Grosjean, France 24. Feliciano Lopez, Spain 25. Fernando Gonzalez, Chile 26. Jiri Novak, Czech Republic 27. Filippo Volandri, Italy 28. Nicolas Kiefer, Germany 29. Mikhail Youzhny, Russia 30. Richard Gasquet, France 31. Juan Ignacio Chela, Argentina 32. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain 33. Robin Soderling, Sweden

Women

1. Lindsay Davenport, United States 2. Maria Sharapova, Russia 3. Amelie Mauresmo, France 4. Elena Dementieva, Russia 5. Anastasia Myskina, Russia 6. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia 7. Nadia Petrova, Russia 8. Patty Schnyder, Switzerland 9. Vera Zvonareva, Russia 10. Justine Henin-Hardenne, Belgium 11. Venus Williams, United States 12. Elena Bovina, Russia 13. Nathalie Dechy, France 14. Kim Clijsters, Belgium 15. Jelena Jankovic, Serbia-Montenegro 16. Elena Likhovtseva, Russia 17. Tatiana Golovin, France 18. Silvia Farina Elia, Italy 19. Shinobu Asagoe, Japan 20. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia 21. Mary Pierce, France 22. Francesca Schiavone, Italy 23. Ai Sugiyama, Japan 24. Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria 25. Dinara Safina, Russia 26. Paola Suarez, Argentina 27. Amy Frazier, United States 28. Marion Bartoli, France 29. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia-Montenegro 30. Gisela Dulko, Argentina 31. Karolina Sprem, Croatia 32. Flavia Pennetta, Italy

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