Sun, 01 Oct 2023

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz on collision course in Paris

Field Level Media
05 Jun 2023, 05:40 GMT+10

No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic reached a record 17th quarterfinal at the French Open with his 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Juan Pablo Varillas of Spain in Paris on Sunday.

Djokovic hasn't dropped a set through the first four rounds.

Another Spaniard, top seed Carlos Alcaraz fared better than Varillas inhis defeat of Italian Lorenzo Musetti, the 17th seed. Like Djokovic, Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Djokovic was a master tactician on Sunday, hitting seven aces, converting six of 12 break chances, winning points on 84 percent of his first serves and 88 percent of his shots at the net, and hitting 35 winners against 20 unforced errors.

The Serbian star was pleased with his effort as he reached the quarterfinals for the 14th straight year.

"(There was) great energy on the court, from the crowd and myself as well," Djokovic said after the match. "I really enjoyed it. My best performance in the tournament so far.

"It came exactly at the right time, as I'm coming into the second week and obviously playing another quarterfinal, the matches are going to get tougher. Bigger challenges, but I like the way I'm playing and the way I'm feeling, so I look forward to a new challenge."

That next challenge will come from Russian Karen Khachanov, the No. 11 seed, who rebounded from a poor first set to defeat unseeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

The prize at the end of the French Open could be Djokovic's 23rd Grand Slam title, which would set a record for the most ever by a male player and break his tie with Rafael Nadal of Spain. Nadal will miss the rest of the season following hip surgery.

To get there, Djokovic could face Alcaraz, who is set to succeed Nadal as the next great Spanish tennis player. The 36-year-old Djokovic and 20-year-old Alcaraz are on course to meet in the semifinals, should Djokovic oust Khachanov and Alcaraz get past No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

On Sunday, Alcaraz lost the first two games of the match, then went 18-5 over the next 23 to win in two hours, eight minutes.

"I think I played such a great level," Alcaraz said on the court after the match. "A really high quality of shots, playing really aggressive. I think I played a really complete match, (from the) first ball to the last one, and I'm really happy to get through this really tough round against Lorenzo."

Tsitsipas eliminated Austria's Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the third time in four years. Tsitsipas only lost his serve one time and finished with 27 winners and 12 unforced errors -- 19 fewer errors than Ofner.

--Field Level Media

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