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International

Novak Djokovic Breaks His Tie with Rafael Nadal by Reaching 17th French Open Quarterfinals

PARIS — Novak Djokovic broke a tie with rival Rafael Nadal by reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the record 17th time, never truly in trouble during a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Juan Pablo Varillas on Sunday.

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.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic plays a shot against Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas during their fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Sunday, June 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Against the 94th-ranked Varillas, who had never won a Slam match until this event and then took three in a row in five sets, Djokovic was, not surprisingly, at his dominant best at Court Philippe Chatrier on a warm, sunny day.

The 36-year-old from Serbia finished with more than twice as many winners, 35-15, and fewer unforced errors. He went 15 for 17 on trips to the net. He put in 80% of his first serves. He converted 6 of 12 break points while dropping his serve only once.

All in all, a no-drama showing in under two hours from Djokovic, who hasn’t ceded a set yet through four matches. He’s had his less-than-amiable back-and-forths with some spectators over the past week in Paris, but when this one ended, Djokovic gestured as though to hug everyone as he heard some chants of his two-syllable nickname, “No-le!”

In his 55th career major quarterfinal — Roger Federer, who retired with 58, is the only man to reach more — and 14th in a row at Roland Garros, the No. 3-seeded Djokovic will face No. 11 Karen Khachanov on Tuesday.

Khachanov, who is 1-8 against Djokovic, made it this far at a Slam for the fifth time by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

The other men’s fourth-round matches Sunday were No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti, and No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Sebastian Ofner.

Two unseeded women moved into quarterfinals and will play each other next: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 2021 runner-up at Roland Garros, and Karolina Muchova.

Pavlyuchenkova, who missed last year’s tournament as part of a lengthy absence with a knee injury, got past a third consecutive seeded opponent, No. 28 Elise Mertens, by a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 score.

Muchova was a 6-4, 6-4 winner against Elina Avanesyan, who lost in qualifying but got into the main draw when another player withdrew.

The other women’s matches scheduled for later: No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, and No. 9 Daria Kasatkina vs. Elina Svitolina.

 

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