PARIS: Novak Djokovic moved effortlessly into the French Open fourth round for the 12th successive year on Saturday, setting up an intriguing duel against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti as Elina Svitolina crashed out, leaving just three of the women’s top 10 seeds in the tournament.
World number one 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.
“If you look at it, it may seem like an easy win but that’s not the case,” said Djokovic. “The conditions were different, the bounce was lower so you have to adapt but that’s part of the job.”
Djokovic is bidding to be the first man in more than half a century to win all four majors on multiple occasions.
Next up for the Serb is 19-year-old Musetti after the 76th-ranked Italian 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.”
Fellow Italian teen Jannik Sinner, a quarter-finalist in 2020, also made it to the second week, easing past Sweden’s Mikael Ymer 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.
Jan-Lennard Struff, a 31-year-old German, matched his best Grand Slam effort by advancing to the fourth round when he beat 18-year-old qualifier Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2. Diego Schwartzman, the 10th seed, eliminated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
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 Svitolina.
World number 33 Krejcikova goes on to face former US Open champion Sloane Stephens for a place in the quarter-finals. Stephens, who is ranked 59th and is out of the top 50 for the first time since 2017, advanced by beating 18th-seeded Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5.
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.
Results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Third round: 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania) 6-1, 6-4, 6-1; Lorenzo Musetti (Italy) bt Marco Cecchinato (Italy) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; 18-Jannik Sinner (Italy) bt Mikael Ymer (Sweden) 6-1, 7-5, 6-3; 10-Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 6-4, 6-2, 6-1; Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) bt Carlos Alcaraz (Spain) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.
Third round: Sloane Stephens (US) bt 18-Karolina Muchova (Czech Republic) 6-3, 7-5; Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic) bt 5-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6-3, 6-2; 4-Sofia Kenin (US) bt 28-Jessica Pegula (US) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Marta Kostyuk (Ukraine) bt Varvara Gracheva (Russia) 6-1, 6-2.
Friday’s remaining results:
Third round: 5-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) bt 31-John Isner (US) 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.
Third round: 20-Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) bt Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 6-3, 6-3; 33-Paula Badosa (Spain) bt Ana Bogdan (Romania) 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021