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'Mr. Five-Setter' Varillas Upsets Hurkacz To Extend Fairytale Paris Run

  • Posted: Jun 02, 2023

‘Mr. Five-Setter’ Varillas Upsets Hurkacz To Extend Fairytale Paris Run

First Peruvian to reach Roland Garros fourth round in 29 years

Juan Pablo Varillas continued his dream run Friday at Roland Garros, where he earned the highest-ranked win of his career after he upset 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2 in the third round.

The Peruvian, who had not won a Grand Slam main draw match heading into Paris, has survived three consecutive five-set thrillers to set a fourth-round clash against 22-time major champion Novak Djokovic. Incredibly, all five of Varillas’ career Grand Slam appearances have gone the distance.

It’s been a dramatic reversal of fortune for Varillas at Roland Garros, where last year he squandered a two-sets-to-love lead against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round. This year, in his first two matches, Varillas battled back from two-sets-to-love down against Shang Juncheng and Roberto Bautista Agut.

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The Lima native will look to add to his run by collecting his first Top 5 win against the third seed Djokovic. Varillas, who is at a career-high No. 60 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, is the first Peruvian to reach the Roland Garros fourth round since Jaime Yzaga in 1994.

The 27-year-old Varillas struck his groundstrokes with power and depth throughout the three-hour, 51-minute battle against Hurkacz. Varillas held the advantage in extended rallies and absorbed the Pole’s hefty delivery to advance. A five-time ATP Challenger Tour champion, Varillas has broken serve 19 times across three matches, including four breaks against the World No. 14 Hurkacz.

Earlier this year, Varillas pushed Alexander Zverev to five sets in the first round of the Australian Open, where the Peruvian was making his Melbourne debut as a lucky loser.

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Djokovic Digs Deep To Down Davidovich Fokina At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jun 02, 2023

Djokovic Digs Deep To Down Davidovich Fokina At Roland Garros

22-time major champion to play Hurkacz or Varillas in fourth round

Novak Djokovic cut through the tie-break tension in style on Friday at Roland Garros, where the third seed overcame a fierce challenge from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to seal a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 third-round victory.

The two-time champion Djokovic withstood a barrage of big hitting from the 29th seed Davidovich Fokina in two richly entertaining opening sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Serbian then took control in the third set for a hard-earned three-hour, 36-minute victory.

“I knew it was going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match,” Djokovic said. “We played three hours for only two sets. He contested very well. He is an amazing fighter and an amazing player. He has very few weaknesses in his game. Congratulations to him for fighting. Bad luck, but he played a great match.”

Djokovic is now into the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 14th year in a row as he chases a record 23rd major trophy, as well as a return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, this fortnight in Paris. His next opponent in the French capital will be 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz or Juan Pablo Varillas.

“A win is a win. The first two sets, three hours, I thought if I lose the second set, I will probably be playing five hours today,” Djokovic said. “You have to be ready. That is what Grand Slams are all about, playing best of five. You have to believe in yourself and make the most out of it. I am proud of the performance today.”

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The match against Davidovich Fokina followed a similar pattern to Djokovic’s triumph over Marton Fucsovics in the second round. The Serbian won a tight tie-break in the opening set against the Hungarian before motoring away to clinch a straight-sets win.

Competing against the Spaniard on Friday, Djokovic twice fell a break of serve behind in a entertaining first set as Davidovich Fokina’s clean hitting pulled the Serbian all around Court Philippe-Chatrier. Djokovic reclaimed the break in the next game on both occasions, however, and the 36-year-old then raised his level in the tie-break, clinching the set with a stunning forehand return winner.

Any suggestion that disappointment would deflate Davidovich Fokina’s challenge was quickly dispelled as the Spaniard opened a 2-0 lead in the second set. Djokovic responded by reeling off four games to lead, but Davidovich Fokina, who defeated the Serbian on clay in Monte-Carlo last year, rallied to force a tie-break.

The World No. 3 found another gear in the tie-break, winning a series of lung-busting rallies to move further clear. Djokovic let out a roar after winning the set, raising his fist to the crowd in celebration. Djokovic, who is seeded to meet Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, raced through the third set, clubbing 11 winners in the set to seal his 23rd win of the year.

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Top Seeds Koolhof/Skupski Advance At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jun 02, 2023

Top Seeds Koolhof/Skupski Advance At Roland Garros

Dodig/Krajicek reach third round

Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski continued their quest for their first major title as a team on Friday when they defeated Pedro Cachin and Wu Yibing 6-4, 6-2 at Roland Garros.

The Dutch-British pair won 92 per cent (23/25) of their first-serve points to advance after 70 minutes. Koolhof and Skupski won seven tour-level titles last season but are still seeking their first crown in 2023. They will meet Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela in the third round.

Marcelo Melo, who earned his 600th tour-level doubles win earlier this week, and John Peers moved past Rome champions Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski 7-6(5), 6-4. They will next play Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

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Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury advanced after Roberto Carballes Baena and Jaume Munar were forced to retire when trailing 2-3 in the first set. Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies defeated Jonathan Eysseric and Harold Mayot 7-5, 6-3.

Two-time champion Kevin Krawietz maintained his impressive Roland Garros record when he teamed with Tim Puetz to down Roman Arneodo and Sam Weissborn 6-4, 6-2.

Last year’s finalists Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek beat Marc-Andrea Huesler and Nicolas Jarry 7-5, 6-2 to reach the third round. Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen also advanced, defeating Roman Jebavy and Luis David Martinez 6-1, 6-2.

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