Monday, May 20, 2024

Novak Djokovic survives French Open scare before teenager Lorenzo Musetti quits

French Open 1
Novak Djokovic
Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti shakes hands with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after retiring injured from their fourth round match. Image Credit: REUTERS

PARIS, June 7: Novak Djokovic survived a major scare from teenager Lorenzo Musetti on Monday to reach a 15th French Open quarter-final and stay on course to become the first man in over 50 years to win all four Grand Slams twice.

The world number one dropped the first two sets, then comfortably levelled before the 19-year-old Italian retired in the final set.
Djokovic’s 6-7 (7/9), 6-7 (2/7), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 win set up a last-eight clash with Matteo Berrettini, another Italian, who progressed after Roger Federer’s withdrawal.
Djokovic, the 2016 champion and chasing a 19th major, was facing his earliest exit in Paris since 2009 when 19-year-old Musetti stormed through the first two sets, hitting blistering winners and finding the acutest of angles.
But the 76th-ranked Italian, making his Grand Slam debut, then went dramatically off the boil.
Where the first two sets had taken 75 and 66 minutes, Djokovic swept the third in 24 minutes and the fourth in just 17.
Musetti won only 14 points in the third and fourth sets before leaving the court for a medical time-out.
Djokovic broke for 1-0 in the decider, injuring a finger as he smashed a winner while losing his balance and falling into the clay.
Musetti gamely fought on but after being broken twice again, he called it quits.
US teenager Coco Gauff reaches first Grand Slam quarter-final at French Open

Coco Gauff
US’s Coco Gauff celebrates after defeating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur during their fourth round match at the French Open in Paris | AP

Coco Gauff became the youngest Grand Slam quarter-finalist in 15 years on Monday when she defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at the French Open.
Gauff, seeded 24, swept to a 53-minute 6-3, 6-1 win and took on Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals.
At the age of 17 years and 86 days, Gauff is the youngest woman to reach the last eight of a Slam since Nicole Vaidisova who made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2006 aged 17 years and 44 days.
She is also the youngest American woman to book a place in the last eight in Paris since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.
In a composed performance on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday, the American teenager broke her fellow former junior champion three times without facing a break point herself.
“I am super happy to reach my first Grand Slam quarter-final. I played really well today,” said Gauff, who has yet to drop a set at the tournament.
Gauff came into the French Open on the back of a clay court title in Parma.
“Parma taught me how to close out matches and how to deal with pressure,” added the American who also discovered Monday that she had claimed a place on the American team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Fourth seed Kenin dumped out of French Open by Sakkari
Greece’s Maria Sakkari demolished last year’s French Open runner-up Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-3 on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
The world number 18 needed just 68 minutes to defeat the fourth-seeded American and set up a clash with reigning champion Iga Swiatek or Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk for a place in the last four.
Sakkari broke Kenin six times as the 2020 Australian Open winner committed 32 unforced errors and served nine double faults.
“I’m speechless. I love Paris. I’m having a great time and I don’t want to leave anytime soon,” said Sakkari, who reached the last 16 in Melbourne and New York last year.
“I’m actually enjoying myself, that’s the most important thing. I’m not actually torturing myself when I’m on court.”
The win over Kenin was Sakkari’s third win over a top-five player this season. It also left eighth seed Swiatek as the highest-ranked player left in the women’s draw.
“The match before yesterday gave me a lot of confidence,” said Sakkari, who beat 14th seed Elise Mertens in three sets in the previous round.
“I played really good tennis and so today I was really ready for a battle.”
Rohan Bopanna crashes out of French Open, India’s campaign ends
India’s campaign in the French Open came to an end as Rohan Bopanna and his Croatian partner Franko Skugor lost their men’s doubles quarterfinal on Monday.
The 41-year-old Bopanna and Skugos went down 5-7, 3-6 to the Spanish duo of Pablo Andujar and Pedro Martinez in a match that lasted one hour and 17 minutes.
The unseeded Indo-Croat pairing had received a walkover in the pre-quarters on Sunday against Netherlands’ Matwe Middelkoop and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador.
Last week, Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina had lost their opening round matches of men’s and women’s doubles events respectively.
In the singles events, Sumit Nagal, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Prajnesh Guneswaran and Ankita had failed to enter the main draw.
Krejcikova swats aside Stephens to book French Open quarter-final spot
Big-hitting Czech Barbora Krejcikova powered past former French Open finalist Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0 in a clash of unseeded players to reach the quarter-finals on Monday.
The 33rd-ranked Krejcikova, who won the 2018 doubles title at Roland Garros with Katerina Siniakova, has not lost since a maiden title-winning run in Strasbourg and dominated the 2017 US Open winner on a sun-bathed Suzanne Lenglen court.
Former world number three Stephens, who reached the final in Paris in 2018, did not have any answer to Krejcikova’s powerful but effortless stroke-making in their first meeting and did not help her cause by committing 26 unforced errors.
Krejcikova was the third Czech opponent for Stephens in a row and the American was forced to hurry her shots in the face of clean hitting from her opponent.
“I was just thinking I have to play my game, I have to be aggressive, because I was expecting she’s going to play like high, really topspin balls,” Krejcikova told reporters.
“And it was actually happening. And then, you know, I just think that I was playing smarter. I was actually playing all those important points really well, so I think that was actually the key.
“I felt a little bit that I actually wasn’t the favourite. I felt that Sloane was the favourite. That’s how I actually approached the match.”
The 25-year-old Krejcikova broke the American’s serve twice in the opening set and then wiped her out in the second.

The Czech won 82% of her first serve points and saved all three break points she faced.
Krejcikova converted her second match point with a forehand winner, her 10th of the match, and will meet another American in 17-year-old Coco Gauff, who thrashed Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-1, for a place in the semi-finals. (AFP/PTI/Reuters)