<i>Our weekly Friday look at newsmakers in the tennis world.</i><br><br>Friday's release of the French Open draw kick-starts the season's most important six-week stretch, which culminates at Wimbledon. With Serena and Venus on opposite sides of the field, American fans can hope for the first all-Williams final at Roland Garros since 2002. But the more compelling drama may unfold on the men's side, where Rafael Nadal attempts to become the first player to win the tournament five straight times and Roger Federer seeks his first Paris title.
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The 21-year-old Serb reached the top of the WTA rankings after winning last year's French Open. But it's been a struggle since, with a thumb injury, early Grand Slam exits and a series of puzzling losses hastening her decline to No. 8. The latest complication is a knee injury suffered in April during her country's Fed Cup win over Spain -- but she insists she's fit to defend her crown.
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The three-time Grand Slam winner returned to singles action this week after spending the past nine-and-a-half months nursing a shoulder injury. The 22-year-old Russian advanced to the quarterfinals at the Warsaw Open before falling in the quarterfinals to Alona Bondarenko. It's probably too soon for Sharapova to contend for her first French Open title as she attempts to complete the career Grand Slam, but a string of positive results could help build confidence for Wimbledon next month.
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How dominant has the preeminent men's player been in '09? Last week's run to the Madrid final gave the Spaniard enough rankings points to already clinch a place in the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals in London.
5 of 10David Callow/SI
The 26-year-old was responsible for one of the Australian Open's happier storylines with her unlikely run to the quarterfinals this year. But she's won just one match since, most recently losing at the Warsaw Open in straight sets to qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru.
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USC men's tennis
When USC's Robert Farah rallied for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Ohio State's Bryan Koniecko at the NCAA men's tennis championships, the Trojans clinched their 17th national title. On the women's side, Duke swept Cal for its first crown.
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The 25-year-old London native advanced to the semifinals of the Warsaw Open, becoming the first British woman since 1983 to reach the final four of a WTA Tour clay-court event. Her reward? A first-round match with No. 1 seed Dinara Safina at the French Open.
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Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi
The longtime rivals announced their exhibition match for Oct. 25 in Macau. Sampras and Agassi met 34 times during their playing careers (the former had a 20-14 advantage), including the finals of the Australian Open in 1995, Wimbledon in '99 and the U.S. Open in '90, '95 and '02.
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The 24-year-old Serb, who finished 2008 as the world's top-ranked player, hopes to win her first Grand Slam title at the French Open. Meanwhile, she spent Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival in South France attending the Cinema Against AIDS Gala alongside celebs like Sharon Stone, Mike Myers and Marion Cotillard.
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World Team Cup
America's quest for a fifth World Team Cup title came to a crashing halt in this week's group stage, with Sam Querrey (pictured), Robby Ginepri and Mardy Fish combining for a 4-5 record in matches against Germany, Sweden and France.
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