Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Number one seed Rafael Nadal will begin the defence of his Wimbledon title on Monday against American Michael Russell and has been drawn in the opposite half of the draw to Roger Federer. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Number one seed Rafael Nadal will begin the defence of his Wimbledon title against American Michael Russell and has been drawn in the opposite half of the draw to Roger Federer, increasing the likelihood of another final between the great rivals.

Six-time champion Federer, the third seed, opens his campaign against Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin. Novak Djokovic, the second seed, is in Federer's half of the draw.

Djokovic takes on France's Jeremy Chardy in the first round, while Nadal's potential semi-final opponent Andy Murray opens his campaign against Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray -- the game's "big-four" -- all reached the semi-finals at the French Open and it would be a brave man who would bet against them repeating the feat at the All England Club this year.

Federer will have been encouraged by his display at Roland Garros as he looks to equal Pete Sampras' seven victories at Wimbledon. Should Nadal lift the trophy he would equal Bjorn Borg's three French-Wimbledon doubles. Djokovic has only been beaten once this year -- after Federer dumped him out of the French Open semi-finals. And Murray, well, the less pressure heaped on the Briton's shoulders the better, really.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal's recent record at Wimbledon is astonishing. The world number one has reached the final at the All England Club in each of the last four times he's played there, winning the tournament in his past two outings.

His form coming into the tournament couldn't be better, either. After a slow start at Roland Garros, he played some scintillating tennis from the quarterfinals onward, beating the world No. 5-, 4-, and 3- ranked players in the process.

But the Spaniard could be made to work for a third title. Milos Raonic, in the third, could be Nadal's first real test. Inexperienced on grass, Raonic's buccaneering serve has seen him emerge as a serious force this year.

Also looming on Nadal's side of the draw for the fourth round is Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine's least comfortable surface is grass but a meeting could be uncomfortable for Nadal.

Last year's finalist, Tomas Berdych, awaits in the quarters followed by a potential encounter with Britain's Andy Murray.

Novak Djokovic

Nole has a mixed record in SW19, the number two seed reached the semi-finals last year but lost in straight sets to Tomas Berdych and is yet to win a title on grass.

But he came into the French semi-final against Federer on the back of a 43-0 match streak and his record against the other members of the "big four" this season is 7-1; in other words, he's in hot form.

The Serbian's mental game is almost as formidable now, and defeat in Paris should provide the motivation to go further at Wimbledon.

His route to the final is difficult to predict though. First up, it's the heavy-hitting Jeremy Chardy before, potentially; Kevin Anderson, who has beaten Djokovic before; Marcos Baghdatis; Viktor Troicki; and Robin Soderling.

Roger Federer

Imperious on grass, Federer is looking to tie Sampras' modern record of seven titles at Wimbledon this year. The Swiss announced himself in this tournament, beating Sampras in the 2001 fourth round and ending the American's 31-match winning streak. Federer has won 55 matches at Wimbledon overall, losing just six.

The world number three has flashed hot and cold in the last year but he is far from a shadow of his former self. He was scintillating in defeating Djokovic and came within inches, nay millimetres, of beating Nadal in the French final. Federer is 34-8 for the season, having lost to only four players -- Nadal and Djokovic three times each and Richard Gasquet and Jurgen Melzer. Not bad for a man who turns 30 in August.

"That's obviously the huge priority right now, to win Wimbledon in a few weeks' time. That's always, for me, the No. 1 goal in the season," he said recently.

Federer faces perhaps the easiest route to the final of the "big four". The first seed he should meet is No.28 David Nalbandian, who hasn't reached the heights his early promise indicated; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could appear in the quarters before a reunion with Djokovic in the semis.

Andy Murray

After falling to Nadal in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, Murray was asked how he might emulate Djokovic's success in breaking the Federer-Nadal duopoly.

"Just get better," he said, simply.

After reaching the Australian Open final and the semi-finals in Roland Garros, Murray is probably more worried about breaking his own Grand Slam drought than Britain's 75-year wait for a men's singles champion. Grass is not his favoured surface but he has a decent, if unspectacular record at Wimbledon and is the least fancied of the top four seeds -- because, rather than in spite of, the home support.

But the Scot has an easier path than most through this year's draw. His first test could be in the third round, when either Sergiy Stakhovsky or Ivan Ljubicic, both winners of grass-court titles, might await.

There might be real drama in the fourth if he meets Richard Gasquet, who would relish a tie with Murray -- having lost two-set leads to Murray at Wimbledon and the French Open.

Andy Roddick could await in the quarterfinals but Murray will feel he has the measure of the American after blowing him away at Queen's.

After that? Nadal could be waiting in the semis. England might be dreaming another year yet.