French Open: Djokovic and Alcaraz reach last 16
Novak Djokovic battled into the French Open fourth round for a 14th consecutive year on Friday as Carlos Alcaraz also progressed, after women’s third seed Jessica Pegula and men’s seventh-ranked Andrey Rublev were dumped out of the tournament.
Djokovic has made headlines for his comments about Kosovo this week but his on-court progress has been relatively serene, reaching the second week without dropping a set.
The Serb star was made to work hard by Spanish 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who served for the first set and missed a set point in the second, but won 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I thought if I lost the second set we would play five hours today, but I’m proud of the performance,” said Djokovic.
“I think if I had lost one of the first two sets, it would have gone for five hours.” ?
Two-time champion Djokovic, who has also made the French Open quarterfinals in each of the past 13 years, will take on Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas in the last 16.
The 36-year-old is hoping to break out of his tie with injured rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the men’s all-time list of major winners at Roland Garros.
He is just one title behind Serena Williams’s mark of 23 Slams and two adrift of Margaret Court’s overall record.
Djokovic, slated to meet world number one Alcaraz in the semifinals, has now won three of his four matches with Davidovich Fokina.
The first two sets lasted two hours and 47 minutes, as Davidovich Fokina provided a stern test of Djokovic’s form.
But the world number three broke when he trailed 6-5 in the opening set before overturning a 3-1 deficit to win a tie-break.
Davidovich Fokina missed one set point to level the match before Djokovic won another breaker before being booed by the crowd for taking a medical time-out.
“That’s something that I find disrespectful and I frankly don’t understand that,” said Djokovic, who made short work of the third set.
Alcaraz thrashed Canadian 26th seed Denis Shapovalov for the loss of just seven games in the night-session match.
The Spaniard powered to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory, with the only slight blip when he trailed 4-1 in the second set.
He reeled off seven straight games after that wake-up call, though, to set up a fourth-round meeting with Italian 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti who dismantled British number one Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“I knew I’d have my chances in the second set to come back a bit and that’s what I did,” Alcaraz said.
The 20-year-old is bidding for a second straight Grand Slam title after winning the 2022 US Open and then missing this year’s Australian Open through injury.