Roland Garros: Djokovic Yet To Lose A Set

PARIS/STARNBERG, October 3, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic remained flawless in Paris after easing past Colombian qualifier Daniel Ehali Galan 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 in just under two hours to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros. Djokovic overtook Federer claiming sole ownership of second place on the wins leaderboard at the clay-court Grand Slam championship.

Just as in his second-round match, Djokovic did not allow his opponent a single break of serve, saving five break opportunities in total. Down the road, Djokovic hit 38 winners and was able to win 16 out of his 23 (70%) points at the net.

The 33-year-old Serb, who has dropped the fewest games (15) so far at Roland Garros, will next face Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the quarterfinals.

Khachanov managed to prevail in four sets over world No. 19 Cristian Garin of Chile earlier the day, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 30 minutes. It is the fourth time in a row that the 24-year-old Russian got past the third round in Paris.

“[Against Novak, I will] try to be steady, to try to maintain the level that we will play [for the] most time possible… [I will] keep pushing to try to break the guy if something is going wrong on [my] serve,” said Khachanov.

“You don’t have to be surprised if you lose a few games even if you 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. At the end of the day, [I need] to enjoy it. [I am] looking forward to a good match.”

Two retirements

Greek No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas quickly rushed to a two-set lead over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, who was forced to retire down 1-6, 2-6, 1-3 after just 80 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen due to a right foot injury.

“It’s something that I cherish and appreciate,” said Tsitsipas, on reaching the fourth round. “Being able to compete in a second week gives me a lot of confidence. It feels great. You feel like you’re part of a prestige. I’ve been putting a lot of hard work in in every single match trying to rise my level, play up to my expectations. I’m very glad that I am where I am today.”

Tsitsipas, who holds a 25-9 win-lose record this year, will be trying to reach the quarterfinal stage in Paris for the first time in his next match against former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, who also benefited from the retirement of Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

“At 3 a.m. I woke up with a pain in my stomach and feeling so bad,” said Carballos Baena. “Then I warmed up this morning. I was feeling better. But after the warm-up, I was sick again two times. It was tough.”

With his win, Dimitrov managed to reach the second week in Paris for the first time in his career on his 10th attempt.

“I don’t know much about him, to be honest, outside the  court. I’ve clearly watched him play a lot of matches. Yeah, he’s been having very, very good results, playing good tennis on any surface,” Dimitrov said about his next opponent Tsitsipas.

Badosa Gibert achieves new landmark

On the women’s side, 22-year-old Spaniard Paula Badosa Gibert, the 2015 French Open junior champ, has caused the biggest upset of the day, beating 2017 Roland Garros Champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time in her career.

Badosa Gibert averaged just five unforced errors per set during the whole match, while Ostapenko produced 43 unforced errors in total. With her win, Badosa Gibert jumps to World No. 65 in the live rankings, a career peak ranking for the Spanish prospect.

“When I was in juniors, there were a lot of expectations in my country, saying I need to be the next [Maria] Sharapova… and I wasn’t ready for that,” Badosa revealed on her last five years since claiming the junior title in Paris.

“I had a very bad two, three years, but then I stopped myself and I tried to start from zero. I worked hard every day and I tried to have stability outside of tennis in terms of being happy. I’m very happy that now I can play my game, try to enjoy and have fun.

In her next match, Badosa Gibert will oppose 32-year-old German Laura Siegemund, who upset No. 13 seed and last year’s Roland Garros quarterfinalist Petra Martic of Croatia in three sets, prevailing 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-0.

“The thing of tennis is you play today against Ostapenko and two days from now, you play against a completely different player,” Badosa assessed.

“I think that’s very challenging. She’s very tough, she plays very good on clay and she fights every point. I will try to do the same and the best one will win. 

Seeded players in action

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova continues her quest for a maiden Roland Garros final appearance following a 7-5, 6-3 win over 18-year-old Canadian Prospect Leylah Annie Fernandez in the generation battle of left-handed players.

“Definitely think that [Leylah Fernandez] is really playing great game. She’s a great mover. She catch a lot of balls & if she has a chance, she’s really going for it. It was really challenging today. I’m really happy I found a way even though it wasn’t easy,”  Kvitova said afterwards.                                  

Next, the 30-year-old experienced Czech will face World No. 40 Zhang Shuai, who became the first Chinese player since Lina Na in 2012 to reach the fourth round in the singles competition at Roland Garros after a hard-contested 7-6(2), 7-5 win over French wild card Clara Burel.

From 0-2 down in the first set, reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin won twelve consecutive games to secure an easy 6-2, 6-0 victory over clay-court specialist Irina Maria Bara.

“I kind of was a little bit tired of those dramatic matches,” Kenin laughed afterwards. “I just wanted to try to start off well and finish off really well.”

“Towards the end I just started getting a little bit careless,” Kenin admitted. “I started doing dropshots towards the end, just for fun. I was like, Why not? Let’s just do dropshots. But then she obviously picked up her game. But it’s nice getting 12 games in a row, I have to admit.”

Kenin will next encounter the biggest unseeded threat of the women’s draw in Paris, when she opposes in-form Fiona Ferro, who overcame Patricia Maria Tig 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-0 in almost three hours to extend her winning-streak to 18 matches (including Challenge Elite FFT Exhibition).

“Fiona, I played her a few years ago in Charleston – that’s first round in qualifying,” she said. “If I’m correct, I won like 7-5, 6-1 or 6-2, I don’t remember.”

“It was a tough match,” Kenin continued. “She’s obviously a good clay-court player – she’s got a big forehand, big serve, she’s got great touch. She had a really good win a few days ago [over Elena] Rybakina and of course she’s using the crowd to help her, so I’ll just have to watch after this and then I’ll come up with a plan.”