Djokovic Gets Job Done Before Night Falls Over Paris

Novak Djokovic

PARIS, May 28, 2016

The top half of the men’s draw was in third round action on a rain interrupted as well as busy Day 7 at Roland Garros and just as daylight fades on court Philippe Chatrier, world number one Novak Djokovic closed his encounter with Aljaz Bedene, winning 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

Djokovic converted seven of his 17 break point opportunities, hitting 39 winners to prevail in two hours and two minutes. The 29-year-old from Serbia has reached the stage of the final 16 in Paris for the 10th time.

“I played very well, 6-2, 5-1, 30-0, and couple of long games where I didn’t use my opportunities. But, I closed out two sets pretty well. Started the third great. I had a couple of opportunities for the double break and 2-0. Then the night show started. I dropped my serve, the games were very long, Pascal (Maria) was on fire. He was coming down from his chair. Yeah, and we went deep into night. I think we played to the maximum extent of time we could, I think, the light. I’m just glad I managed to finish tonight,” the top-seed was relieved.

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Djokovic will take on Roberto Bautista-Agut, who marches on without dropping a set. The 14th seed from Spain downed Borna Coric 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

Spanish veterans David Ferrer and Feliciano López, both aged 34, met for the 16th time, but only the 2nd time at a Grand Slam, when they went head-to-head on Court 1. Ferrer captialized on six of his 13 break point chances, hitting 35 winners to secure a 6-4, 7-6, 6-1 victory.

The 11th seed notched his seventh straight win over López to reach the fourth round, taking on Tomas Berdych. The seventh seed from the Czech Republic dismissed Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Berdych fired 10 aces and converted four of his 10 break points to set up a 15th career meeting with Ferrer. The Spaniard is leading 8-6 in head to head records.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was forced to retire in his match against Ernests Gulbis with an injury, leading 5-2 in the opening set. Before the Frenchman received treatment on his left knee. Consequently, Richard Gasquet will be the last local standing in Paris for the first time. From 2008 to 2015 it was either Tsonga or Monfils.

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“The problem is my adductor, the same thing I had before the tournament. I just came on court pretty good, and feeling really good. The first game of the match I do to slide, and on one of them I just felt a pain. Then I continued a little bit, and it was coming more and more painful, and I didn’t know where exactly I felt the same pain. I knew it was over, because there was no chance that I can play all match long like this and no chance, I can defend on the next round. So I just decided to stop, and that’s it,” Tsonga explained.

“It’s of course a big disappointment, as I felt really well on the court. I was in a really good shape today. It’s just really difficult to accept that I’m not anymore in the tournament. I mean, that’s part of the game, and I have to accept it.”

Gulbis felt a bit strange after the short match.

“I feel very sorry for Jo, because it’s been already the second match he had to withdraw. First one was in Wimbledon a couple years ago. There we played three sets. Here unfortunately we played just seven games. It’s never nice to win like this, so I feel very sorry for him. There’s not much I can say about the match itself. It was just the beginning. I was just starting to get to feel the atmosphere of the center court. I haven’t been here for a couple of years,” the 2014 semi-finalist from Latvia told.

Ahead of the French Open, Gulbis split from his coach Günter Bresnik, who also works with Dominic Thiem.

“I’m searching for a not so much tactical coach but more of a technical coach, because I’m the kind of player who has problems of maintaining his game and maintaining his shots clean. These are things what I need for a coach to see and to be on a daily basis next to me and seeing these small changes what I make or what I don’t make so I can maintain the same level of play throughout the year. Tactically, I think that my game is pretty uncomfortable for most of the guys,” the world number 80 explained.

Gulbis also said that he is not eligible to play at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I didn’t play Davis Cup, so I cannot play Olympics. They have this rule that you have to play certain amount of Davis Cups, and unfortunately I didn’t play. That was a choice what I did, based on my specific relation also with Latvian tennis federation. I really don’t like that in Olympic Games there is no points and no prize money. It’s a little bit like tennis tourism,” the former world number 10 stated.

Gulbis will take on frequent practice partner David Goffin next. The 12th seed from Belgium fought past Nicolas Almagro on court 2, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Goffin withstood 17 aces from the Spaniard, hitting 10 of his own. He won 139 of the 260 total points played.