French Open: Djokovic Sets Up Potential Nadal Quarter-Final


Defending champion Novak Djokovic set up a potential French Open quarter-final against long-time rival Rafael Nadal by moving up a gear to beat Argentine 15th seed Diego Schwartzman.

Top seed Djokovic produced his best level so far at Roland Garros to win 6-1 6-3 6-3 in the fourth-round match.

The 35-year-old Serb defended well to save seven of eight break points while taking six of his 11 chances. Nadal, 35, will fix up the meeting if he beats Felix Auger-Aliassime later.

Like Djokovic, 13-time champion Nadal has not dropped a set on the Paris clay this year and the fifth seed will look to protect that record against an opponent who is now coached by his uncle, Toni Nadal.

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime, seeded ninth, had never won a main-draw match at Roland Garros until this tournament.
Two-time champion Djokovic came into the French Open having played fewer tournaments than usual this year but is showing signs of peaking at exactly the right time.

Schwartzman, a 2020 semi-finalist, was supposed to be Djokovic’s toughest test so far.

But Djokovic saw off the diminutive Argentine in a professional display that was less comfortable than the scoreline suggested.

Djokovic was deported from Australia and not allowed to play at the year’s opening Grand Slam event, then banned from entering the United States to play at Indian Wells and Miami, because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19.

After an early exit on his competitive return at Monte Carlo, he has continued to improve since and came into the clay-court Grand Slam on the back of winning the Italian Open in Rome.

In Paris he started with straight-set wins against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, Slovakia’s Alex Molcan and Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene.

Despite his status as one the sport’s all-time greats, Djokovic does not seem to enjoy the same amount of love at Roland Garros as Nadal or Switzerland’s Roger Federer and a few boos were heard as walked on to court to face Schwartzman.