Sports, Tennis

Djokovic, Alcaraz on track for French Open showdown

Published : 05 Jun 2023 09:14 PM

Novak Djokovic swept into the French Open quarter-finals for the 14th straight year on Sunday as world number one Carlos Alcaraz breezed past Lorenzo Musetti to stay on a collision course with the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

Third seed Djokovic ended the surprise run of Peruvian outsider Juan Pablo Varillas, winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, and has yet to drop a set through four matches.

The Serb, chasing a third Roland Garros crown, is into a record 17th French Open quarter-final after making the last eight at a major for the 55th time.

"I'm proud of it, but my attention is already in the next match," said Djokovic, who faces Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the semi-finals, where Alcaraz could await.

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

"Obviously the performance of today gives me a great deal of confidence about how I felt, about how I played."

Varillas, 27, was the first player from Peru to reach the second week of a Grand Slam since Jaime Yzaga made the US Open quarter-finals 29 years ago.

Djokovic raced 4-0 ahead in the opening set only for Varillas to break in the next game and then have a chance to get back on serve in the seventh game.

But once Djokovic held for a 5-2 lead it was plain sailing for him as he closed out victory in just under two hours.

Khachanov made his third successive Grand Slam quarter-final after he recovered from a bad start to overcome Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1.

Djokovic holds an 8-1 record against Khachanov, winning their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2020.

Alcaraz looked every part the tournament favourite as he dismantled the talented Musetti in straight sets to return to the French Open last eight.

Musetti had not lost a set in three rounds but Alcaraz brushed the Italian 17th seed aside in barely two hours, triumphing 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to avenge last year's defeat on clay in the Hamburg final.

"I think I played such a great level, really high quality of shots. I played a really complete match from the first ball until the last and I'm pretty happy to get through this tough round," said Alcaraz.

The 20-year-old faces a tough next assignment in 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eased past Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.

“The clash we've been all waiting for,” said Tsitsipas, the Greek fifth seed who has lost all four meetings with Alcaraz. “I think everyone was expecting it, weren't they? And it’s here. It’s game on.”