The French Open: Who will take the clay?

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The Independent Online

Men’s world number one Rafael Nadal is gearing up for another win on the clay at the French Open, which starts on Sunday, hoping to become the first ever player to gain five successive titles since the tournament went international in 1925.

The Spaniard’s biggest threat is Roger Federer, who last week broke Nadal’s 33-match winning streak at the Madrid Open. The Swiss national is aiming for his 14th grand slam title in a bid to match Pete Sampras’s record.

Click the image on the right to launch our guide to the 2009 French Open contenders.

Another contender is Serbia’s Novak Djokovic who has been thwarted on clay by Nadal three times already this year, but told Reuters: “Next time I'll probably take two rackets on a match point and try to hit with both of them.”

Russia’s Dinara Safina - the sister of Marat Safina - has been tipped to win the women’s tournament, following her triumph at the Madrid Open last week. However, she may face a rejuvenated Serena Williams, who retired injured from Madrid in the early stages to “preserve her chances” for France.

Defending women’s champion Serbian Ana Ivanovic is also back in action after a knee injury forced her to withdraw from Madrid: "Obviously I haven't had the preparation I would have liked, but on the positive side I didn't play many matches before the French Open last year too," she said.