The best of the bunch

The second major of the 2013 tennis season, and the only one contested on clay, will get underway Sunday at Paris’s Roland Garros. Here are the top contenders for the French Open men’s and women’s titles:

Men

Rafael Nadal

Age: 26

Birthplace: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain

World ranking: 4

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 11/7

Best shot: Cemented his status as the best clay-courter ever with a seventh French Open title in 2012, eclipsing Bjorn Borg’s six. Nadal’s seven-month layoff should matter little.

Novak Djokovic

Age: 26

Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

World ranking: 1

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 6/0

Best shot: Arguably the game’s quickest mover and equally impressive on offense and defense. The French is the lone major to elude the Serb, who beat Nadal on clay in April.

Roger Federer

Age: 31

Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland

World ranking: 3

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 17/1

Best shot: Has a favorable draw, with Nadal and Djokovic in the other half of the bracket. The Swiss maestro won his lone French championship, in 2009, without facing either.

Women

Serena Williams

Age: 31

Birthplace: Saginaw, Mich.

World ranking: 1

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 15/1

Best shot: Arrives in exceptional form, having won three clay-court titles this year. Williams has a favorable draw, with Sharapova and Azarenka in the opposite half.

Maria Sharapova

Age: 26

Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia

World ranking: 2

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 4/1

Best shot: Completed a career Grand Slam by winning last year’s French. If she can avoid Williams, against whom she’s 2-13 and winless on clay, she could prevail on power and will.

Victoria Azarenka

Age: 23

Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus

World ranking: 3

Grand Slam titles/French Open titles: 2/0

Best shot: A hard-hitting fighter who, like Sharapova, will hope to avoid Williams, against whom she’s 2-12. Faces a tough draw, with 2011 champion Li Na looming in quarterfinals.

— Liz Clarke