French Open: Novak Djokovic happy to 'cruise along' into record 10th quarter-final

Top seed Novak Djokovic safely through with an emphatic win over Jan-Lennard Struff

Novak Djokovic was too strong for Jan-Lennard Struff in their French Open fourth round clash. EPA
Novak Djokovic was too strong for Jan-Lennard Struff in their French Open fourth round clash. EPA

Novak Djokovic said he is happy to "cruise along" after strolling in to a record 10th successive French Open quarter-final with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday.

The top-seeded Serbian was in irrepressible form in the fourth-round to set up a quarter-final against fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic is the first man to make the last eight in Paris for 10 successive seasons. It's his 13th appearance in the quarter-finals overall.

None of his opponents have even managed to take more than four games from the 15-time grand slam champion in a set so far this year at Roland Garros.

"I don't mind cruising along, to be honest," said Djokovic. "I have plenty of experience, I think, dealing with situations where you're facing break points or where it's tense. I have played plenty of tight matches in my career that I can rely on that experience.

"I think it's good to be tested, from that perspective, but at the same time, it's also good to cruise along and kind of conserve the energy for what's coming up.

"I reached the quarter-finals and played as closest to my best tennis on clay as I think I can be at the moment," the world No 1 added.

"I'm really pleased with every aspect of my game. So everything is coming together beautifully."

Only Australian great Rod Laver has held all four majors at the same time twice before, after his calendar Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969.

But top seed Djokovic, who first held all four when he won his first Roland Garros title three years ago, is looking to follow in Laver's footsteps after adding the Australian Open trophy earlier this year to his 2018 Wimbledon and US Open titles.

Next up for Djokovic is a last-eight encounter with world No 5 Zverev, who produced his best performance of the tournament to defeat Italian ninth seed Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6.

Last year, Zverev achieved his best run at the majors, making the quarter-finals where he was defeated by eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem.

"Fabio is playing the best tennis of his life," said Zverev of the 32-year-old Italian who won his first Masters title in Monte Carlo in the run-up to Paris.

"So I am happy to get through this and into another quarter-final here."

Zverev is 2-2 against Djokovic in his career but won their only meeting on clay in the Italian Open final in 2017 in straight sets.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Thiem was in impressive form to thrash home favourite Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

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

"It was my best match of the tournament so far, some great rallies; it's always fun to play Gael," said Thiem, who advanced in straight sets for the first time this year.

In a match carrying over from Sunday, Kei Nishikori extinguished the hot-headed Benoit Paire's fiery challenge to book his place in the quarter-finals with an error-strewn 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 victory. The Japanese seventh seed will take on defending champion Nadal.

In the women's draw, defending champion Simona Halep issued an ominous warning to her rivals with a 6-1 6-0 win over Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

Third seed Halep produced a nearly flawless performance on Court Philippe Chatrier against a bold opponent who turned 18 last Friday.

Swiatek came out with all guns blazing but clearly failed to master her raw power, bowing out after 45 minutes when Halep whipped a forehand winner down the line.

"I have a good feeling, I feel good on court and I'm not stressing myself about the result," said Halep.

Also through the women's singes last-eight on Monday were Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty - who defeated Sofia Kenin 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 - and American 11th seed Madison Keys, who ran out a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 winner over Katerina Siniakova.

Updated: June 3, 2019 09:19 PM


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