Sunday, 24 Sep, 2023


Djokovic 'proud' of surpassing Nadal record

Sports Desk |
Update: 2023-06-05 13:54:58
Djokovic 'proud' of surpassing Nadal record [photo collected]

Novak Djokovic demonstrated his superior quality to swat aside Peru's Juan Pablo Varillas and reach a record 17th French Open men's quarter-final.

The Serbian third seed, 36, won 6-3 6-2 6-2 on the Roland Garros clay and moved ahead of Rafael Nadal to take sole ownership of the last-eight record.

Djokovic is also aiming to overtake Nadal by winning a record 23rd Grand Slam men's singles title.

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz also advanced by beating Italy's Lorenzo Musetti.

Spain's Alcaraz, seen as Djokovic's main rival for the title in the absence of injured 14-time champion Nadal, won 6-3 6-2 6-2 against the 17th seed later on Sunday.

Djokovic and Alcaraz remain on course to meet in the semi-finals.

On taking sole ownership of the quarter-final record, Djokovic said: "I'm proud of it, but my attention is already in the next match.

"I know what my goal is here. I'm trying to stay mentally the course and of course not look too far [ahead]."

Two-time champion Djokovic, who won in 2016 and 2021, will play Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov next.

Khachanov, 27, reached his third successive Grand Slam quarter-final with a 1-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 victory over unseeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

World number one Alcaraz, 20, will meet fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas next after the Greek beat Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner 7-5 6-3 6-0.

The US Open champion has won his past 11 Grand Slam matches, having been injured for the Australian Open which Djokovic won in January.

Since returning from the abdominal problem, Alcaraz has been dominant on the clay.

An uncomplicated win over Musetti - who knocked out British number one Cameron Norrie in the previous round - was his 24th win in 26 matches on the surface this season.

"I try to not think about the pressure of being world number one," Alcaraz said.

"I try to enjoy my tennis, I try to make the people enjoy watching the tennis. This is all I think about during the match."

Drama-free afternoon for Djokovic
Drama tends to follow Djokovic around at a Grand Slam and, after he risked flaming political tensions in the Balkans by writing a slogan about Kosovo at the start of Roland Garros, he admitted he gains extra drive from controversy.

A physical third-round match against Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also provided a talking point, leading to Djokovic saying afterwards he did not have time to name his "long list" of injuries.

But the straightforward nature of beating Varillas meant it was a drama-free afternoon for the Serb.

After cruising into a 4-0 lead, Djokovic continued to have issues with his ball toss in windy conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier and had to stop Varillas putting the set back on serve by saving another break point before holding for 5-2.

During that game came the only real bit of theatre.

Djokovic was booed by the French fans for a rather innocuous gesture of frustration following a Varillas winner for 30-40, thriving on the energy to deny the Peruvian and then, with a smile on his face, cupping his ear with his hand at the crowd.

Juan Pablo Varillas stretches for a ball in his French Open match against Novak Djokovic
Varillas had never made a Grand Slam main-draw match until Roland Garros, winning all of his opening three matches in five sets
Varillas, ranked 94th in the world, almost quit the sport in 2016 to return to university full-time and the decision not to retire has paid dividends with his best run at a major.

He was the first Peruvian man to reach the Roland Garros last 16 since Jaime Yzaga in 1994, but could not match his compatriot by going on to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.

Djokovic had only lost once on the Paris clay to a player ranked outside the world's top 50 - Italy's Marco Cecchinato in the 2018 quarter-finals.

After going a break up early in the second set, he was never going to be on the end of another shock and quickly wrapped up victory to reach his 14th consecutive quarter-final at Roland Garros.

Source: BBC 

BDST: 1355 HRS, JUN 05, 2023

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