Djokovic breaks French Open tie with Nadal
PARIS, France (AP):
Novak Djokovic broke a tie with rival Rafael Nadal by reaching the French Open quarter-finals for the record 17th time while never truly in trouble during a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Juan Pablo Varillas yesterday.
"Well, I'm proud of it, but my attention is already on the next match," said Djokovic, who will play No. 11 Karen Khachanov for a semi-final berth that could come against No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz. "I know what my goal is here. I'm trying to stay mentally on course and, of course, not look too far."
That's because Djokovic is closing on bettering Nadal in a more prestigious category: Grand Slam singles championships. Both currently sit at 22. For Djokovic, that total includes two at Roland Garros, in 2016 and 2021, and he can become the first man to own at least three trophies from each major tournament.
Nadal is a 14-time champion in Paris but is missing this time because of a hip injury; he had arthroscopic surgery Friday night that is expected to sideline him for the rest of the year.
Alcaraz extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 11 matches -- he won the US Open in September, then missed the Australian Open in January with a leg injury -- by beating No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Alcaraz's opponent in a second consecutive quarter-final at Roland Garros will be No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas or Sebastian Ofner.
The No. 3-seeded Djokovic, meanwhile, is this far for the 14th time in a row at the French Open and for the 55th time overall at all majors. Roger Federer, who retired with 58, is the only man to reach more.
Djokovic takes an 8-1 head-to-head mark into tomorrow's meeting with Khachanov, who defeated Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.\
"He's one of the toughest tasks, toughest opponents," Khachanov said about Djokovic, "and you cannot count him out."
Elina Svitolina, participating in her first Slam since having a baby in October, made her way into the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win against No. 9 Daria Kasatkina, who was in the final four in Paris a year ago. Svitolina, from Ukraine, skipped the post-match handshake against her Russian opponent because of the ongoing war; Kasatkina offered a thumbs-up to Svitolina.