Divided loyalties in Federer clash

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Federer_return1 AP Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Paris – As the winner of 16 grand slams and the owner of countless records, Roger Federer is revered all over the world.

Roland Garros on Friday will be no exception but this time one of his many fans is married to his opponent.

Nicolas Mahut's prize for reaching the third round of the French Open for the first time, on his 10th visit, is a meeting with one of the sport's all-time greats. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, he is not even sure who his wife will be supporting.

“I have a problem because my wife is a fan of Roger. My whole family is,” a smiling Mahut told reporters.

“So I will need to make sure they will be in the right players' box watching the match.”

The tussle between the two 30-year-olds will be last on Court Philippe Chatrier and Mahut knows he will have his work cut out as he has not even won a set in three previous meetings against 2009 champion Federer.

“It (playing Federer) is a beautiful present I get for my first third round in the French Open,” said Mahut, whose name will live long in tennis folklore for his epic 11 hour five minute contest with American John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010.

“Of course I have very few chances of winning it. I don't have a lot of room for victory but I'm going to try to use my weapons.

“I need to play the best match of my life, and he just needs to play an average match.”

While the Federer-Mahut contest will be one for the purists, where attacking tennis and deft touches will be in abundance, the baseline slugfest between former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska is unlikely to capture the public's imagination.

Another former women's champion, Ana Ivanovic will be hoping to continue her resurgence against Sara Errani, while top seed Victoria Azarenka takes on Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.

Men's world number one Novak Djokovic will be aiming to take another step closer to becoming the first man in 43 years to hold all four grand slam titles at once when he takes on local hope Nicolas Devilder. – Reuters

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