Djokovic, Nadal set French Open landmarks, Italian teens next up - GulfToday

Djokovic, Nadal set French Open landmarks, Italian teens next up

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Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Ricardas Berankis (not in picture) during their French Open match on Saturday. Agence France-Presse

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal recorded new French Open landmarks as they moved effortlessly into the fourth round on Saturday, setting up intriguing duels with a pair of Italian teenagers seen as heir apparents to the Grand Slam superstars.

Djokovic, the champion in Paris in 2016 and chasing a 19th Grand Slam title, brushed aside 93rd-ranked Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-4, 6-1.

The world number one is in the last 16 for the 12th successive year and will next face 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti who is making his debut at the Slams.

Defending champion Nadal reached the fourth round for a record 16th time, claiming his 103rd victory in Paris to set a new record of match wins at a Grand Slam.

Nadal’s 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie also put him into the last 16 of a major for the 50th time.

His 103 wins in the French capital puts him ahead of Roger Federer’s mark of 102 victories at the Australian Open and 101 at Wimbledon.

Nadal, chasing a 14th Roland Garros title and record-setting 21st Grand Slam, goes on to face Italian teenager Jannik Sinner.

Musetti, ranked 76 in the world, fired 50 winners past compatriot Marco Cecchinato in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

He becomes just the sixth man since 2000 to make the fourth round of a Slam on debut.

“I have practised with Novak so I know a little bit about his game. There will be more tension, but it’s what I have been working for since childhood,” said Musetti. “Now it’s reality.”

Djokovic, beaten by Nadal in the 2020 final, said he was a fan of Musetti with whom he practised in Monte Carlo this year.

“He’s got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand,” Djokovic said.

“He can play with a lot of spin. He’s got a great feel, comes to the net. He can play short balls, dropshots. He can flatten out his serve. He can open up with a good kick and slice.”

Nadal defeated Sinner in the quarter-finals in 2020 but expects a much tougher assignment on Monday.

“Jannik is not the best fourth round, without a doubt, he’s a dangerous one,” said Nadal.

Sinner, seeded 18, made it to the second week, easing past Sweden’s Mikael Ymer 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.

Federer, locked on 20 majors with Nadal, is aiming to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the 68th time.

The 39-year-old Swiss, who won his only French Open title in 2009, tackles Germany’s 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer in the evening session.

Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic reached the last 16 for the second successive year with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over three-time quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina as only three of the top 10 women’s seeds made it to the second week.

World number 33 Krejcikova goes on to face former US Open champion Sloane Stephens for a place in the quarter-finals.

“I am super happy, most of my shots were amazing,” said the Czech who is on an eight-match winning streak after capturing a maiden singles title in Strasbourg last week.

Stephens, the 2018 runner-up in Paris, defeated Czech 18th seed Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5 to reach the last 16 for the seventh time.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin, the runner-up in 2020 and the highest seed left, came back to beat fellow American Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The top three seeds, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka all failed to get beyond the third round.

In all, only four of the top 10 made the third round, the fewest in 20 years.

Serena Williams, seeded seventh, plays her last 16 match on Sunday.

Defending champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek overcame an early break to defeat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 to stretch her record of straight-sets wins at Roland Garros to 10 matches.

Swiatek reeled off 11 of the last 13 games and will next face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.

“She had a fast start and I was late getting going,” said Swiatek who had lost both her previous matches to Kontaveit.

American 17-year-old Coco Gauff made the last 16 for the first time when compatriot Jennifer Brady retired with a foot injury after dropping the first set.

Agencies

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