Tennis: Djokovic, Alcaraz reach French Open last 16 as Pegula, Rublev exit

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits back forehand against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain during their men's singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on June 2, 2023 (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP )

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns forehand against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina during their men’s singles match on day six of the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris on May 2. June 2023. (AFP)

PARIS – Novak Djokovic fight into the 4th round of the French Open for the 14th year in a row on Friday as Carlos Alcaraz also improvedafter women’s third seed Jessica Pegula and men’s seventh seed Andrey Rublev were disqualified from the tournament.

Djokovic has made headlines with his comments on Kosovo this week but his on-court run has been relatively serene, going into a second week without dropping a set.

The Serb star had to work hard against 29th seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who served in the first set and missed a set point in the second, but won 7-6 (7/4). ), 7-6 (7/5) , 6-2 at Philippe Chatrier field.

“I thought if I lost the second set we would have played for five hours today, but I’m proud of the performance,” said Djokovic.

Two-time champion Djokovic, who has also reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the past 13 years, will face Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas in the round of 16.

The 36-year-old is hoping to overcome injured rival Rafael Nadal to top the list of all-time men’s champions at Roland Garros.

He is only one title short of Serena Williams’ 23 Grand Slam record and two titles behind Margaret Court’s overall record.

Djokovic, expected to meet world number one Alcaraz in the semi-finals, has now won three of his four matches against Davidovich Fokina.

The first two sets lasted two hours and 47 minutes, as Davidovich Fokina gave a rigorous test of Djokovic’s form.

But the world number three broke with a 6-5 lead in the opening set before overcoming a 3-1 loss to win the tie-break.

Davidovich Fokina missed a set point to level the match before Djokovic won another break before being booed by the crowd for a medical timeout.

“That’s something that I find disrespectful and to be honest, I don’t get it,” said Djokovic, who made it brief in the third set.

Alcaraz defeated 26th Canadian seed Denis Shapovalov by just seven games in the night game.

The Spaniard won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, with the only slight slippage as he led 4-1 in the second set.

However, he reeled seven games in a row following that wake-up call, to set up a meeting in the fourth round with Italian 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti, who knocked out British number one Cameron Norrie with a score of 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

“I knew I would have a chance in the second set to come back a little bit and that’s what I did,” Alcaraz said.

The 20-year-old is aiming for a second Grand Slam title in a row after winning the US Open in 2022 and then missing this year’s Australian Open due to injury.

Sonego stuns

Italian Lorenzo Sonego hit back in two sets to knock Rublev down and reach the round of 16 for the second time.

The world No. 48 was two points behind the tie-break defeat in the fourth set but won 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 after three hours 42 minutes.

Sonego will face Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals against Djokovic.

“I played more aggressively in the first and second sets because when he’s aggressive it’s hard to go against him,” he said.

11th seed Khachanov ended the tournament of Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis with an exciting 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) win.

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his quest to win his first Grand Slam title with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory over semi-finalist Diego Schwartzman.

The Greek fifth seed, who took a two-set lead over Djokovic in the 2021 final, will next face Sebastian Ofner in the Austrian qualifiers after having his second week in a row for the fifth year in a row.

American Pegula’s hopes ended comprehensively with a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

The world number three Pegula has never made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament.

The former Australian Open champion will face 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Sabalenka ‘unsafe’

Aryna Sabalenka refused to hold an official post-match press conference after reaching the round of 16 for the first time with a two-set win over Kamilla Rakhimova.

The Belarusian claimed she “didn’t feel safe” when asked to condemn her country’s support of Russia’s war in Ukraine during a press conference earlier this week.

The second seed has yet to drop a set in the tournament after an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over world number 82 Rakhimova.

Sabalenka will face former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the fourth round.

Russian Daria Kasatkina, a semi-finalist last year, overcame Peyton Stearns of the US 6-0, 6-1 in less than an hour.

The 9th seed will face Elina Svitolina on Sunday for a place in the quarterfinals.

Ukrainian Svitolina reached the fourth round in her first Grand Slam appearance since the 2022 Australian Open with a 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Anna Blinkova.


Agence France-Presse

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