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Preview: Can Khachanov Stun Djokovic Again?

  • Posted: Oct 04, 2020

Karen Khachanov has stunned Novak Djokovic on one of tennis’ biggest stages, upsetting the Serbian in the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters final. But will the big-hitting Russian be able to replicate that feat in his fourth-round match against the World No. 1 on Monday at Roland Garros?

“What happened in the past, it’s already in the books. But every new match is a new challenge, new opportunity,” Khachanov said. “Maybe mentally you know that you beat him in this particular match, [so] for sure it gives you the confidence inside to know that you’ve done it already at least once.

“[The] deeper you go, [the] tougher the opponents you face. This is what it’s all about.”

Djokovic leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-1 and this will be their first clash on clay. The top seed has only lost 15 games through three matches in his pursuit of an 18th Grand Slam title. Khachanov knows that while he has weapons in his game, it is not about landing one knockout blow against the Serbian.

“[You have to] try to be steady, try to maintain the level that we will play during the most time possible. For sure it’s not easy to take the serves here in every match because the conditions are slow,” Khachanov said. “You don’t have to be surprised if you lose a few games even if you can serve hard or not. A lot of balls are coming back, especially in the current situation. I think the most important thing for me is to stay steady, to believe in myself, to believe in the game that I’m playing.”

In the second and third rounds, Djokovic faced first-time opponents. The 2016 Roland Garros champion said a key was to get off to a strong start to apply pressure. Although he has competed against Khachanov, a quick start will still be vital.

“I think if you impose yourself from the very beginning on the court, which I have in those first three matches here, then it makes it hard for them to really believe that they can come back and make a turnaround in the match,” Djokovic said.

The winner of that match will play two-time US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta or German Daniel Altmaier. If the qualifier upsets the 17th seed, he will become the first man to reach the last eight at a major on his Grand Slam debut since Alex Radulescu at 1996 Wimbledon. Carreno Busta made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2017.

 Daniel Altmaier is making his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros.
Daniel Altmaier is in the fourth round of a major for the first time. Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
An interesting first-time meeting will pit two former Nitto ATP Finals champions against each other: fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov.

Tsitsipas has rebounded well from a crushing five-set defeat in the third round of the US Open against Borna Coric. The Greek reached the Hamburg final and after battling from two sets down for the first time in his opener against Jaume Munar, he has rounded into form. Dimitrov has not dropped a set en route to his first appearance in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

Tsitsipas is the more powerful player, while Dimitrov, who is also a shotmaker, uses more angles to manoeuvre his opponents to his liking. Both men have one-handed backhands.

“I don’t know much about him, to be honest, outside the court. I’ve clearly watched him play a lot of matches. He’s been having very, very good results, playing good tennis on any surface,” Dimitrov said. “I’m excited first of all to be in the second week of this tournament. It’s a great feeling. I want to hold onto it and kind of focus on my side of the net.

“I’m very pleased at where my game is right now. My body as well. [We both have] one-handers, of course. We go from there.”

Monday’s other fourth-round clash is between red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who is trying to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final. Their only previous tour-level meeting came in a 2017 Davis Cup match, which Fucsovics won in five sets.

“Right now he’s just about to break in the Top 10,” Fucsovics said. “I got more mature [since we played]. I have more experience. I’m fit now, fitter than ever. I’m looking forward to playing a good match against him, trying to finally break through to the quarter-finals.”

Before the tournament began, Rubev had never won a match at Roland Garros. He is trying to reach his third Grand Slam quarter-final (2017 and 2020 US Open).

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Pavic/Soares Book Quarter-final Spot In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 04, 2020

Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares advanced to the Roland Garros quarter-finals on Sunday, beating Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.

The seventh seeds won 76 per cent of first-serve points (42/55) to advance after one hour and 45 minutes. Pavic and Soares are attempting to capture their second straight Grand Slam team title, following their maiden major championship victory as a pairing at the US Open last month.

The Croatian-Brazilian duo has ended Rojer and Tecau’s Grand Slam hopes in back-to-back major championships. Pavic and Soares also beat Rojer and Tecau in last month’s US Open semi-finals. The reigning US Open champions will next face the other team to have achieved Grand Slam success this year: Australian Open winners Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah needed a final-set tie-break to advance to the quarter-finals in Paris. The top seeds came from a set down to beat Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(3).

Cabal and Farah will meet 2012 Wimbledon champion Frederik Nielsen and Tim Puetz for a place in the semi-finals. Nielsen and Puetz claimed a 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win against fifth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek on Court 14.

Nicholas Monroe and Tommy Paul saved one match point to defeat Pablo Cuevas and Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(7). The Americans won three straight points from 6/7 down in the final-set tie-break to advance. Monroe and Paul ended the contest with 113 points, compared to Cuevas and Lopez’s 112. The unseeded pair will next meet US Open finalists Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic. The ninth seeds eliminated 2018 champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 7-6(3).

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Sinner Eliminates Zverev To Reach Maiden Major Quarter-final

  • Posted: Oct 04, 2020

Jannik Sinner on Sunday became the first player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals on his tournament debut.

The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion produced one of the biggest wins of his career to beat World No. 7 Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Sinner was clinical on break points, converting five of his six opportunities to defeat Zverev in just over three hours.

The 19-year-old is the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final in 14 years. Aged 36 days younger, Novak Djokovic achieved the same feat when he reached the last eight at this event in 2006.

In the quarter-finals, Sinner will face the ultimate clay-court test: Nadal. The 12-time champion advanced to the last eight in Paris for a record 14th time with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 victory against #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

This is the second straight event where Sinner has earned a Top 10 win. At last month’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, the Italian overcame World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets to reach the third round.

Zverev was attempting to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the third straight year. The German has enjoyed his most successful season at Grand Slam events, highlighted by his runner-up finish at the US Open and a semi-final run at the Australian Open. Zverev has won 14 of his 17 matches at major championships this year.

Sinner claimed the only break of the first set at 2-1, playing with aggression on his forehand and moving up the court to break to love. The World No. 75 increased his advantage early in the second set, playing with consistent depth and ripping his groundstrokes from the baseline.

After earning his third service break to claim a two-set lead, Sinner rallied from a break down to reach 4-4 in the third set. The Italian held four game points to move one game from victory, but committed a series of unforced errors to hand Zverev a route back into the match. The World No. 7 took his chance, as he claimed the third set with an angled backhand volley.

Sinner showed no signs of disappointment in the fourth set, as he continued to attack from the baseline to win eight of the first nine points. Serving for the match, Sinner converted his first match point with a cross-court forehand.

Did You Know?
If Lorenzo Sonego joins Sinner in the quarter-finals, it will be only the second time in the Open Era that two Italian men have reached the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam. Paolo Bertolucci and Adriano Panatta, who both reached the last eight at 1973 Roland Garros, are the only Italian duo to have advanced to the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam.

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