Wednesday, July 24, 2024

French Open: Djokovic gets past Nadal record, Alcaraz set up Tsitsipas clash

Novak Djokovic moved past long-time rival Rafael Nadal after dispatching Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas in straight sets on Sunday, seizing sole ownership of the quarterfinal appearance record at the French Open with 17 appearances.

The Serbian, victorious with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 triumph against Varillas, is also vying to surpass Nadal by clinching a record 23rd Grand Slam men’s title at Roland Garros, reports Xinhua.

“I’m proud of it, but my attention is already in the next match,” said the third seed, who is set to face Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals.

Djokovic dominated the contest against the world No. 94 opponent, firing 35 winners and converting half of his 12 break points to secure victory in one hour and 57 minutes.

“Great energy on the court, from the crowd and myself as well,” Djokovic said on Court Philippe Chatrier. “I really enjoyed it, my best performance in the tournament so far.”

The two-time champion, who triumphed in 2016 and 2021, could also reclaim the world No. 1 spot if he lifts the trophy next week.

“The past 10 days have been the best that I have felt since the Australian Open, so that’s good,” the 36-year-old added. “That’s positive news. I just have to keep going and not allow myself to think too far, but I’m on a good path.”

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, Djokovic’s main title contender, cruised past 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, setting up a quarterfinal clash against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

The US Open champion extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 11 matches, having missed the Australian Open earlier in January due to injury.

Musetti had defeated Alcaraz on clay in their only previous face-off, in the Hamburg final last July. The Spaniard had his sweet revenge this time, rallying from an early break in the opening set to claim 18 of the next 23 games for the victory.

“I think I played such a great level,” said Alcaraz on court. “A really high quality of shots, playing really aggressively. I think I played a really complete match.”

Tsitsipas, the runner-up in 2021, beat Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 to return to the quarterfinal of the clay-court major after a fourth-round exit last year.

Former women’s world No. 3 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine advanced to the quarterfinals in her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother, ousting Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatina 6-4, 7-6(5).

“I don’t have the pressure I used to have,” the 28-year-old said. “Of course, personally I put kind of pressure on myself because I want to win a Grand Slam. This is the ultimate goal for me.

“But definitely not the pressure from outside. I feel almost like I’m 17 again coming on the tour fresh.”

Next for Svitolina is second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who defeated former US Open champion Sloane Stephens of the United States 7-6(5), 6-4 to progress.

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