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Djokovic, Nadal to meet in French quarters

3 minute read

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have had contrasting French Open journeys to reach a highly anticipated quarter-final at Roland Garros.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal was pushed hard by Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime but survived to set up a mouthwatering quarter-final with Novak Djokovic.

Nadal overcame a sluggish start and a stiff challenge from the ninth seed in an enthralling 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 win on Sunday.

Earlier, Djokovic had shown glimpses of his brilliant best to demolish Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-3 and secure a record 16th career Roland Garros quarter-final.

It was only the third time in his 112 matches that Nadal has been taken to the fifth set at Roland Garros. But he kept his blemish-free record intact, wrapping up the win in four hours and 21 minutes to wild applause from the crowd.

Nadal will hope he can recover in time from the gruelling contest for his 59th career meeting with the reigning champion.

The Spaniard, who will turn 36 on Friday, has lifted the Musketeers' Cup a record 13 times but was beaten in the semi-finals last year by Djokovic.

"Of course, we know each other well. We have a lot of history together," Nadal said.

"I am going to be focused, I will try my best. I don't know what will happen but I will fight until the end."

Djokovic's pace was too much for Schwartzman, who barely threatened despite enjoying a 3-0 lead in the second set.

From then on it was one-way traffic and Djokovic won 12 of the remaining 15 games on a chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen against the Argentine, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2020.

"I have a lot of respect for him. He's good guy on and off the court and he's a clay-court specialist so it's not easy, especially in slow conditions today with a ball that was not bouncing high," said Djokovic.

Djokovic has now reached the last eight in Paris for the 13th year in a row and has yet to drop a set.

Third seed, and 2020 US Open runner-up, Alexander Zverev overcame nerves and problems with his erratic serve to beat Spain's Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (13-11) 7-5 6-3.

The 25-year-old German will next face teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who produced a remarkable back-to-the-net, between-the-legs lob to earn the last service break he would need in a 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over Karen Khachanov.

Russian Khachanov was a quarter-finalist in Paris in 2019 and seeded 21st this year.

It will be the Spanish teenager's first French Open last-eight appearance after last month, shortly before he turned 19, he became the youngest man to break into the ATP's top 10 since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

With Reuters

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