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Djokovic, Nadal set French Open landmarks as Federer triumphs on silent night


Switzerland's Roger Federer returns the ball to Germany's Dominik Koepfer during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns the ball to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (AFP)

PARIS, France –  Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal recorded new French Open landmarks as they moved effortlessly into the fourth round on Saturday, setting up intriguing duels with a pair of Italian teenagers seen as heir apparents to the Grand Slam superstars.

However, with his 40th birthday just two months away, Roger Federer showed that he is still a force after battling into the second week for the 15th time in a tie which ended in the early hours of Sunday.

Djokovic, the champion in Paris in 2016 and chasing a 19th Grand Slam title, brushed aside 93rd-ranked Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-4, 6-1.

The world number one is in the last 16 for the 12th successive year and will next face 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti who is making his debut at the Slams.

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Britain's Cameron Norrie during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Britain’s Cameron Norrie during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (AFP)

Defending champion Nadal reached the fourth round for a record 16th time, claiming his 103rd victory in Paris to set a new record of match wins at a Grand Slam, eclipsing Federer’s 102 victories at the Australian Open

Nadal’s 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie put him into the last 16 of a major for the 50th time.

Nadal, chasing a 14th Roland Garros title and record-setting 21st Grand Slam, goes on to face Italian teenager Jannik Sinner.

Musetti, ranked 76 in the world, fired 50 winners past compatriot Marco Cecchinato in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

He becomes just the sixth man since 2000 to make the fourth round of a Slam on debut.

“I have practised with Novak so I know a little bit about his game. This is what I have been working for since childhood,” said Musetti.

Lot of firepower

Djokovic said he was a fan of Musetti with whom he practised in Monte Carlo this year.

“He’s got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand,” Djokovic said.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. (AFP)

Nadal defeated Sinner in the quarter-finals in 2020 but expects a much tougher assignment on Monday.

“Jannik is not the best fourth round. Without a doubt, he’s a dangerous one,” Nadal said.

“I need to be ready to play at a very high level.”

Sinner, seeded 18, made it to the second week, easing past Sweden’s Mikael Ymer 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.

Federer, locked on 20 majors with Nadal, made the fourth round at a Slam for the 68th time with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer of Germany.

His tie ended just before 12:45 Sunday morning and was played inside Court Philippe Chatrier devoid of fans due to a government-enforced Covid-19 curfew.

The 39-year-old, who underwent two knee surgeries last year and is playing just his third event since the 2020 Australian Open, next faces Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

“There are still a few people here, I don’t know who they are: sponsors, journalists, my team too,” said Federer after the three and a half hour tussle.

“I love tennis, I like to play. I might have been more nervous if the stadium had been full.”

Three top 10 women left

Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic reached the last 16 for the second successive year with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over three-time quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina as only three of the top 10 women’s seeds made it to the second week.

World number 33 Krejcikova goes on to face former US Open champion Sloane Stephens for a place in the quarter-finals.

Stephens, the 2018 runner-up in Paris, defeated Czech 18th seed Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5 to reach the last 16 for the seventh time.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin, the runner-up in 2020 and the highest seed left, came back to beat fellow American Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The top three seeds, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka all failed to get beyond the third round.

Serena Williams, seeded seventh, plays her last 16 match on Sunday.

Defending champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek overcame an early break to defeat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 to stretch her record of straight-sets wins at Roland Garros to 10 matches.

Swiatek reeled off 11 of the last 13 games and will next face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.

American 17-year-old Coco Gauff made the last 16 for the first time when compatriot Jennifer Brady retired with a foot injury after dropping the first set.

gsg


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