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Nadal, Henin return to favourite stomping ground in Paris

Paris: Rafa Nadal will seek to erase his shock fourth-round exit last year from the memory banks when the mighty Mallorcan makes his tournament bow at the French Open on Tuesday.

World number two Nadal, who won in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid in the weeks leading up to the year`s second slam, will be third on Court Suzanne Lenglen against French wildcard Gianni Mina, who reached the final in the boys tournament last year.

The French crowd will also be treated to another four-time champion when Belgian Justine Henin, back after 20 months in retirement, returns to Court Philippe Chatrier three years after her last title.

Dubbed the Queen of Roland Garros in her heyday, the 22nd seed will open proceedings against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova as storms are expected in the French capital after a couple of searingly hot days.

Former world number one Dinara Safina, finalist last year, will be on Lenglen as the Russian starts her campaign against Japan`s Kimiko Date Krumm, who is four months short of her 40th birthday and made her debut here some 21 years ago.

Maria Sharapova, another former world number one, will be up against fellow Russian Ksenia Pervak as she chases the only grand slam to have eluded her, three days after winning the warmup event in Strasbourg.

Spain`s Fernando Verdasco can expect a wary reception from the locals in his first-round match against Russian Igor Kunitsyn after waving ironically at the crowd in the Nice final he lost to home favourite Richard Gasquet on Saturday.

Bureau Report

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