French Open: Zverev through to face Djokovic

Published by DPA / Tennismash

Alexander Zverev is back in the last eight for the second year running; Getty Images
Alexander Zverev defeats in-form Fabio Fognini to set up a French Open quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic.

Top seed Novak Djokovic secured a record 10th-straight quarterfinal place at the French Open on Monday, with Alexander Zverev his next opponent.

The world No.1 crushed German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory in one hour and 33 minutes in light drizzle.

Djokovic, 32, faced resistance from his 45th-ranked opponent only early on, with Struff showing courage and firing several clean winners, but Djokovic broke for 5-3 and never looked back.

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The Serb, who is yet to drop a set, is the first to get 10 consecutive last-eight spots at Roland Garros and ties Roger Federer on a leading 13 quarterfinals overall at the tournament.

Djokovic is bidding to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2015/16.

“I am satisfied so far with my game. I mean, I reached the quarter-finals and played as close to my best tennis on clay as I think I can be at the moment,” Djokovic said.

“I’m really pleased with every aspect of my game. So everything is coming together beautifully. I’m motivated to fight for the trophy, yes, that’s why I’m here. But it’s still a long way to go.”

On Wednesday, Djokovic will face German fifth seed Zverev, who has reached the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

The fifth seed rallied impressively to beat ninth seed Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-2 6-2 7-6(5).

Zverev later attributed his good showing to being out of the spotlight, with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas grabbing many of the headlines during the claycourt swing.

“The best thing that could have happened for me is how good Tsitsipas’ claycourt season was,” said Zverev.

“I actually do believe that. I’m happy for him. But, as I said, he was kind of the new superstar all of a sudden.

“And for me, it was actually quite a nice thing that not all of the attention of the NextGen is only going towards my way.”

Also on Monday, Japan’s Kei Nishikori resumed his fourth-round clash with local hope Benoit Paire and sealed an epic five-set win in just under four hours.

The seventh seed prevailed 6-2 6-7(8) 6-2 6-7(8) 7-5 to set up a daunting quarterfinal showdown with titleholder and 11-time winner Rafael Nadal.

The Nishikori-Paire match had been suspended on Sunday due to bad light.

Last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem made light work of Gael Monfils as he ended French presence in the singles draw with a no-nonsense 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory to reach the quarterfinals.

The Austrian fourth seed, widely regarded as the man standing between a final showdown between Djokovic and 11-times champion Rafael Nadal, wiped 14th seed Monfils off Court Philippe Chatrier in expeditious fashion.

He will next face Russian Karen Khachanov, who defeated Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 6-3 3-6 6-3, for a place in the last four.

“That’s what I’m working for, to live moments like this,” Khachanov said after reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“When you win matches like this, you’re just happy. You’re just happy for all the efforts that you have done before, for all the matches that you played. You’re just thankful for a team and family, so thinking about that.”

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