Rafael Nadal's history with Novak Djokovic makes Sunday's French Open final between the pair a mouth-watering prospect, but the Spaniard insists his focus will be on bringing his 'A' game.

Djokovic is one of only two players to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros and he awaits in a dream Paris showdown after the pair came through their semi-finals - the latter after a five-set slog with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal, who was up first and beat Diego Schwartzman to advance to his 13th French Open final, spoke ahead of Djokovic's win.

Asked if his previous run-ins with the Serbian would play a part in this weekend's tussle, Nadal said: "I don't think so. Different circumstances, different kind of tournament and different situation. I don't know. 

"I will let you know on Sunday. I can't predict the future. The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. 

"Without playing my best tennis, the situation is very difficult. I know that is a court that I have been playing well for such a long time, so that helps. 

"But at the same time, he has an amazing record here, too, being in the final rounds almost every single time. He is one of the toughest opponents possible. 

"I am here to keep trying my best. I like to play in this scenario. I know I have to make a step forward. I think I did one today. 

"But for Sunday it is not enough. I need to make another one. That's what I'm looking for. I'm going to work hard to try to make that happen."

Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in Sunday's French Open final after battling past Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

With the upper-body issues that hampered his quarter-final win over Pablo Carreno Busta apparently behind him, the world number one still had to dig deep in Friday's semi-final to see off Tsitsipas, who had won 27 matches this year and had looked imperious against Andrey Rublev in the previous round.

Tsitsipas rallied from match point down in the third set to force Djokovic to go the distance in his quest to reach a first grand slam final, but the 17-time major winner wrestled momentum back to claim a 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 victory.

The 33-year-old, who is 216-1 in grand slam matches after winning the first two sets, eventually completed the job after three hours and 54 minutes as he set up a meeting with old foe Nadal in what will be his 27th major final.

Djokovic saved four break points in the opening game before moving 4-1 ahead and again held off a stern challenge on serve to make it 5-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The 2016 champion's drop shot appeared on point, with two more in game nine helping him close out the opening set despite one or two loose groundstrokes.

Tsitsipas was arguably playing the better tennis by the early stages of the second set, but it was Djokovic who was producing the goods at the key points. Some remarkable defensive work and a brilliant cross-court backhand winner saw him set up just his second break point after trailing 0-40, and he took it when Tsitsipas skied a forehand after a net cord.

He consolidated to move 4-2 ahead and got the double break when Tsitsipas swung a forehand into the tramlines, serving out the set with back-to-back aces to assume control of the match.

Djokovic had match point on serve at 5-4 in the third but Tsitsipas suddenly struck back, at last getting a break of his own and then snatching the set with a ferocious forehand that clipped the baseline.

By now, it was Tsitsipas who was under siege on serve and Djokovic who could not make the breakthrough. He saw 10 break points come and go before sending a drop shot into the net at set point down as the contest entered an unlikely decider.

Djokovic at last broke the resistance early in the fifth, a dead-eyed drop shot and then a strangely errant service game from Tsitsipas giving the Serbian a double break. A third match point proved enough for the number one seed, a downcast Tsitsipas watching a second serve slapped beyond his reach.

Rafael Nadal advanced to his 13th French Open final as he maintained his perfect record in the last four at Roland Garros with a straight-sets victory over Diego Schwartzman.

The Spaniard had never been beaten in the semi-finals of the clay-court grand slam, which he has won a record 12 times, though Schwartzman was the only man to have defeated him on his favoured surface this year.

Any hopes of a repeat of the Argentine's win in Rome last month were soon dashed, though, as Schwartzman failed to hold in the first two games of an opening set that went on for over an hour before Nadal emerged victorious.

The world number two was just as dominant in the next set and, despite a topsy-turvy third, Nadal won 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-0) to leave him one win from a record-equalling 20th grand slam.

Schwartzman had a break point on two occasions in Nadal's opening game but, after 14 minutes, the second seed held and soon moved 2-0 up.

Another break of serve then followed, but Nadal again hit back and went on to seize the set at the third time of asking.

Schwartzman played the shot of the match with an unfathomable chopped forehand winner down the line in the next set, but it was only a mere highlight as Nadal refused to let up, a second break putting him one set from victory.

Nadal has never lost when two sets up on clay but, after forging ahead in the third with a break, he failed to hold in successive service games, with two untimely unforced errors in the latter game giving Schwartzman a glimmer of hope.

The 12th seed had three break points to move 6-5 up but Nadal closed the door each time, and it was the favourite who showed a killer instinct in the tie-break to tee up a final against either Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas.

"I know against Diego it's very difficult until the end," Nadal said on court afterwards. 

"He's one of the players that makes more breaks [than anyone on] the tour. 

"Three weeks ago, I lost in Rome so I expected a very tough match. I'm happy with the way I played, I think I have been improving."

Novak Djokovic was wary of revealing the full extent of his neck and shoulder injuries ahead of a French Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World number one Djokovic reached the last four at Roland Garros on Wednesday after recovering from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.

Djokovic was clearly hampered by fitness concerns, however, wearing tape on his neck, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and then receiving treatment in Paris midweek.

"I definitely didn't feel great coming into the court today. A few things happened in the warm-up," Djokovic explained afterwards.

"I had to deal with those physical issues coming onto the court. As the match went on, I felt better and didn't feel as much pain."

The Australian Open champion was pressed for further detail but, with his title tilt continuing, additional information remained scarce.

"I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I'll just say that," he said. "I don't want to get really too much into it.

"Obviously I'm still in the tournament, so I don't want to reveal too much.

"I'm feeling okay. I think as the match progressed, I warmed up by body and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better."

Victory was particularly sweet as it came against Carreno-Busta, Djokovic's opponent when he was defaulted from the US Open last month for striking a line judge with the ball.

It was put to the 33-year-old Serbian that match – his only defeat in 2020 – might have contributed to the slow start against Carreno-Busta, but he insisted the injuries were the sole cause.

"No, no, it wasn't that at all. It was something else," Djokovic said. "I actually just mentioned what was the issue. I had to deal with that.

"I told you guys many times I'm over it. I'm not thinking about it at all. I mean, zero per cent."

Novak Djokovic exorcised some of his Flushing Meadows demons by coming from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta in four sets in the French Open quarter-finals.

Carreno-Busta was Djokovic's fourth-round opponent at the US Open last month when the world number one was defaulted for striking a ball that inadvertently hit a line judge.

It looked like the Spaniard might find a way past the Serbian again at Roland Garros as he took the first set, with Djokovic clearly troubled by an apparent injury to his neck and upper left arm.

However, he fought through that and triumphed 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 in three hours and 10 minutes to set up a last-four showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas, which will be Djokovic's 38th grand slam semi-final.

It was clear something was not right with Djokovic early on given that, as well as wearing tape on his neck, he continued to stretch and hit his left arm while struggling to make first serves.

Carreno-Busta forged ahead for the first time when Djokovic netted a forehand on serve and, though the Serbian would hit back to make it 4-4, the Spaniard claimed a second break before serving out the opener.

Djokovic received treatment on his left triceps between sets and that seemed to have the desired effect as he levelled up the match with an authoritative forehand that saw him break to love.

The previously subdued world number one had rediscovered his mojo and reeled off three straight games to seize the initiative in the third set, only for Carreno-Busta to fight back and then miss a forehand winner that would have put him a break up.

It was Djokovic who stepped up when it mattered, too, an ace dispatched down the middle putting him one set from victory.

A tireless Carreno-Busta then miscued at the net on serve to give a 4-3 advantage to Djokovic, who staved off three break points before converting his first match point.

 

Data slam: Djokovic overcomes injury issues

Whatever was bothering Djokovic was clearly evident in the opener when he managed to make just 40 per cent of his 30 serves, compared to Carreno-Busta's 65 per cent. However, Djokovic soon found his groove - as epitomised by his first-serve percentage of 70 per cent in the next set. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic: 53/41
Carreno-Busta: 42/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic: 2/5
Carreno-Busta: 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic: 6/13
Carreno-Busta: 3/13  

Stefanos Tsitsipas made a statement of intent by propelling himself into the French Open semi-finals with a straight-sets dispatching of Andrey Rublev.

World number six Tsitsipas, who will face top seed Novak Djokovic or Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday, made light work of his Russian opponent, taking just under two hours to win 7-5 6-2 6-3. 

It puts the Greek – the first player from his nation to make it this far in Paris – into his second career grand slam semi-final, following his run to the last four in the Australian Open in 2019.

The 22-year-old, who claimed 43 points on his first serve, won 16 of the final 21 games to thwart any comeback hopes for Rublev.

"I have been feeling really comfortable playing on this court," Tsitsipas told a limited number of spectators on Court Philippe-Chatrier after his triumph. "Despite not having a good start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am. It's about fighting and trying to find solutions in difficult moments."

Tsitsipas conceded the first break in an intense opener, with Rublev striking to go 3-2 up, but the 13th seed could not hold his nerve when serving for the set and an overhit forehand handed the ATP Finals champion a reprieve.

Another sloppy Rublev forehand gifted Tsitsipas the first set, and several unforced errors from the Russian followed in the second as the fifth seed upped the pressure.

A wonderful drop-shot gave Tsitsipas a first match point on Rublev's serve, though he failed to convert it.

Yet victory was assured in the next game, with Tsitsipas rounding off a supreme display with a clinical forehand volley.

Data Slam: Tsitsipas on a roll at Roland Garros

After dropping his first two in this year's tournament, against Jaume Munar in round one, Tsitsipas has now won 15 successive sets at Roland Garros, and he will now attempt to become the first man from Greece to reach a grand slam final.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Rublev – 25/23
Tsitsipas – 35/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Rublev – 7/0
Tsitsipas – 7/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Rublev – 1/3
Tsitsipas – 5/8

Novak Djokovic had few scares in his fourth-round win over Karen Khachanov at the French Open, though there was one "awkward situation" that left him with a sense of deja vu.

Djokovic eased into his 14th Roland Garros quarter-final with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday.

An entertaining but largely uneventful encounter was marked by a moment of drama as Djokovic accidentally hit a line judge with an errant shot.

The world number one, defaulted from the US Open for striking a line judge with a ball after dropping serve at Flushing Meadows, was in no danger of disqualification this time around, though Djokovic conceded the moment left him briefly feeling uneasy.

He will meet Pablo Carreno Busta in a rematch of that US Open clash following the Spaniard's 6-2 7-5 6-2 win over Daniel Altmaier.

Meanwhile there were wins for Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.


DEJA VU FOR DJOKOVIC

Djokovic skipped his press commitments in the wake of his infamous incident at Flushing Meadows.

However, he was more than happy to face the media after history repeated itself in more innocuous fashion, and he praised the line judge in question for their response to the accident.

"My gosh, it was very awkward deja vu," Djokovic said. "I'm actually trying to find the lines person and see if he's okay because I saw he had a little bit of a bruise, like redness, in that place in the head where the ball hit him. 

"I hope he's fine. I mean, he definitely dealt with it in a very strong and brave way. But it was a hit because I was very close.

"Obviously because of what happened in New York, people I guess are going to make the story out of this.

"It has happened to me and to many other players in the last 15 years that I've been on the tour. I've seen it a lot when the ball ricochets from the racquet and the frame, hits someone in the stands, or someone that is close to you or line umpire.

"It was a very awkward situation obviously."

RUBLEV HAILS 'REALLY IMPORTANT' WIN

Rublev had to fight extremely hard to see off Marton Fucsovics, conqueror of his Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the first round.

The 13th seed was a break down in each of the first three sets, losing the opener on a tie-break before coming back to prevail 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

Asked if he could enjoy a match where he was almost always having to claw back a deficit, he replied: "I think I start to enjoy more when it was one set all.

"When he broke me and I broke him back. When the games was three-all, when I broke him, when he broke me back, from that time I start to enjoy more.

"In general, I think we showed great level. These kind of matches are really important. You understand why you are working, why you're giving everything every day in practices."

TSITSIPAS EYES REVENGE

Next up for Rublev will be fifth speed Tsitsipas, who lost to the Russian in the final in Hamburg prior to travelling to Paris.

The Greek overcame Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (11-9) 6-2 to set up a rematch with Rublev in the last eight.

And he knows he will have to improve if he is to alter the outcome from their previous encounter.

"Andrey, we grew up playing together. He has improved a lot. We've played each other many times. I think he has a positive record against me," Tsitsipas said.

"It is very important for me to take this opportunity and fight harder this time, maybe do something better.

"He's a very challenging player to play against. I think he for sure brings the best out of me when I step out on the court to play against him."

Novak Djokovic remains on a collision course with Rafael Nadal at the French Open after easing past Karen Khachanov and into the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

The world number one missed out on grand slam glory at the US Open after being defaulted for inadvertently hitting a ball at a line judge in his fourth-round match with Pablo Carreno Busta.

A potential reunion with Carreno Busta, who faces Daniel Altmaier in the fourth round, beckons in the last eight for Djokovic after a straight-sets win in a high-quality contest with Khachanov.

Djokovic prevailed 6-4 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 23 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier and has yet to drop a set at the tournament this year.

Khachanov's only victory over Djokovic in their previous four meetings came in Paris in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 event in 2018.

There was rarely any sign of such an upset this time around, though Khachanov did display impressive resilience to immediately break back at 5-3 down with Djokovic serving for the first set.

He wasted the chance to at least push the opener to a tie-break, however, a double fault handing the set to Djokovic, who was in full control thereafter.

Khachanov did offer admirable resistance, the 15th seed more than playing his part in an entertaining encounter as he managed to trouble the Djokovic serve in each set.

However, a break back after dropping the opening game of the third proved his last act of defiance as Djokovic won four of the last five games to move into his 14th Roland Garros quarter-final, tying defending champion Nadal for the most in the history of the tournament.

Data slam: Djokovic's net mastery

Djokovic relied heavily on the drop shot throughout as he attempted to work Khachanov around the court. It was a tactic that paid dividends, with its success reflected by Djokovic winning 66 per cent of his net points. He also hit 44 winners to Khachanov's 31.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic - 44/28
Khachanov - 31/31

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic - 2/1
Khachanov - 5/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic - 6/15
Khachanov - 2/9

Jannik Sinner became the first French Open debutant to reach the quarter-finals since Rafael Nadal in 2005, as the highly rated Italian beat Alexander Zverev to set up a clash with the 'King of Clay'.

Nadal had earlier made light work of Sebastian Korda to book his passage to the next round, dropping just four games in three sets as he comfortably dispatched his 20-year-old opponent.

The Spaniard is going for a 13th title in the French capital and, while he was clearly a cut above, Korda's 48 unforced errors certainly aided his cause on Sunday.

But the day belonged to 19-year-old Sinner, who looks destined for big things.

SINNER THROUGH BUT ZVEREV IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Sinner was in electrifying form on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, beating Zverev 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Sinner converted five of his six chances to break Zverev, who appeared curiously underwhelming on the day. He hit just 20 winners, a little over half of Sinner's 39, highlighting the gulf in decisiveness.

In claiming victory, Sinner became the youngest male player to reach a grand slam quarter-final in 14 years and he felt that, having trained with Zverev on occasion in the past, he was well prepared.

"It has been tough. We have practiced sometimes in Monaco, so we know [each other] quite well," said Sinner on court. "Today was very tough, knowing that it was going to be a long match. At the end, I am very happy about my performance."

But Zverev controversially revealed after the match that he had been suffering with a fever and that he should not have even taken to the court.

The German claimed he had tested negative for coronavirus, though he did not specify when his most recent test was.

NADAL AWARE OF HIS EXCELLENCE

As he prepares for his quarter-final with Sinner, Nadal is well aware he is in imperious form.

Korda offered little resistance on the whole as the second seed ran out a 6-1 6-1 6-2 victor against a player who idolised him growing up – so much so he even named his cat 'Rafa'.

And although the American got his claws into Nadal with a couple of early break chances, the favourite was soon purring and took just 40 minutes to take a one-set lead.

Nadal only struck nine winners over the first two sets, but Korda's error count continued to rise and give his opponent a boost.

The 19-time major champion was left feeling pretty good about his form afterwards as well.

"Well, I'm in the quarter-finals without losing a set and having very positive scores. So, I can't complain at all. So, I'm happy for that," he said.

He then went on to consider the threat posed by Sinner, adding: "He's young, he's improving every single week. So, he's playing better and better and better. It will be a big challenge. It will be the first time playing against him on the tour. I practiced with him a couple of times, he has an amazing potential, he moves the hand very quick and he's able to produce amazing shots."

THIEM FIGHTS BACK

Third seed Dominic Thiem had to dig deep to see off Hugo Gaston in five after throwing away a two-set lead against the world number 239.

Eventually Thiem progressed 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-3, emerging victorious after just over three and a half hours on court.

French wildcard Gaston received a standing ovation from his home support on Court Philippe-Chatrier, with the fans enamoured with the underdog as he pushed one last year's runner-up all the way.

Thiem acknowledged that he was fortunate to come through the test.

"I think I stayed pretty calm even though it was a tough match mentally, physically. I just read before that he played 58 drop shots. I think only three or four of them went into the net, so I made more than 50 full sprints to the net. So that was really, really tough," he said.

Up next for Thiem is a quarter-final with Diego Schwartzman, one of his closest allies on the ATP Tour, with the Argentinian seeing off Lorenzo Sonego with relative ease 6-1 6-3 6-4.

"I'm happy of course to face one of my best friends from the tour in the quarter-finals," Thiem added.

"From my perspective, it's all about recovery. I'm not running on a full tank anymore. That's for sure.  So, I try to recover as good as I can. If I'm able to do that, if somehow I don't make it until Tuesday, I think he's going to be the heavy favourite."

Alexander Zverev has revealed he was suffering with a fever during his French Open defeat to Jannik Sinner. 

Highly rated Italian Sinner became the first player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros on his tournament debut, beating Zverev 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3 to progress. 

But Zverev's post-match comments have taken the spotlight from Sinner, as the German claimed he was playing despite showing symptoms of a respiratory illness. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players are expected to undergo regular coronavirus tests, socially distance where possible and wear a mask when not on court. 

Competition rules state a player will be removed from the draw if they come into contact with a player or entourage member who has tested positive for the virus. 

Zverev said any tests he has done have been negative, likewise those in his circle, though he accepts he should not have played on Sunday. 

He said: "I am completely sick after the match with [Marco] Cecchinato in the night. Yeah, what can I say? I'm completely sick. 

"I can't really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had fever, you know, as well. Yeah, I'm not in the best physical state, I would say. 

"I think that had a little bit of an effect on the match today." 

Zverev added: "To be honest, I warmed up today. I shouldn't have played. But I was hoping maybe for a three-set win or something like that, but I knew from the beginning that it wasn't going to be easy." 

But when asked in the English section of the news conference about when he last had a coronavirus test, Zverev took issue with the journalist asking the question. 

"I'm not answering your questions. There is no chance I'm answering your questions from what you have been writing about me over the past months. Absolutely no chance," he said.

Alexander Zverev has revealed he was suffering with a fever during his French Open defeat to Jannik Sinner. 

Highly rated Italian Sinner became the first player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to reach the quarter-finals at Roland Garros on his tournament debut, beating Zverev 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3 to progress. 

But Zverev's post-match comments have taken the spotlight from Sinner, as the German claimed he was playing despite showing symptoms of a respiratory illness. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players are expected to undergo regular coronavirus tests, socially distance where possible and wear a mask when not on court. 

Competition rules state a player will be removed from the draw if they come into contact with a player or entourage member who has tested positive for the virus. 

Zverev said any tests he has done have been negative, likewise those in his circle, though he accepts he should not have played on Sunday. 

He said: "I am completely sick after the match with [Marco] Cecchinato in the night. Yeah, what can I say? I'm completely sick. 

"I can't really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had fever, you know, as well. Yeah, I'm not in the best physical state, I would say. 

"I think that had a little bit of an effect on the match today." 

Zverev added: "To be honest, I warmed up today. I shouldn't have played. But I was hoping maybe for a three-set win or something like that, but I knew from the beginning that it wasn't going to be easy." 

But when asked in the English section of the news conference about when he last had a coronavirus test, Zverev took issue with the journalist asking the question. 

"I'm not answering your questions. There is no chance I'm answering your questions from what you have been writing about me over the past months. Absolutely no chance," he said.

Rafael Nadal made light work of Sebastian Korda and the strong Paris winds to book his place in the French Open quarter-finals with a 6-1 6-1 6-2 Sunday stroll.

American Korda had never played a main-draw match on clay prior to the tournament and the gulf in class was evident throughout as Nadal barely broke sweat in the swirling gusts.

The 'King of Clay', aiming for a 13th title in the French capital, has dropped just 23 games in four matches thus far but 48 unforced errors from Korda, a huge Nadal supporter growing up, helped his cause on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

"I honestly believe we are looking at a great player, he had some mistakes in important moments but the way he hit the ball is impressive," said a gracious Nadal, who has reached the last eight without dropping a set for the eighth time. "I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals again and [it was] another tough match today."

Korda was such a big fan of Nadal's he named his pet cat 'Rafa' and the giant American got his claws into his opponent early with a couple of break-point chances.

But, having seen them off, Nadal was soon purring. With Korda - who was hindered by 18 first-set errors - struggling in testing conditions, he Spaniard breezed through the opener in just 40 minutes.

Nadal only hit nine winners in the first two sets as Korda's error count continued to creep up but one particularly wonderful textbook forehand down the line set up another break and a two-set lead.

To his credit, Korda made a decent fist of it in the fourth, taking a 2-0 lead early doors, only for an unflappable Nadal to reel off six straight games and coast into the last eight.


Data slam: Nadal punishes error-strewn Korda

It would have taken a huge leap of faith to back Korda in this one but an error count of 48, even accounting for tricky conditions, is a gift you cannot present Nadal no matter how much you admire him.

That Nadal, who won 64 per cent of points at the net and was successful with 72 per cent of second serves, had just 15 winners tells the story of how he did not need to hit top gear.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal - 15/20
Korda - 21/48

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal - 1/1
Korda - 0/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal - 8/11
Korda - 1/6

Novak Djokovic's stellar year has rolled into the French Open, where he has made the most dominant start of his career.

The world number one crushed Daniel Elahi Galan at Roland Garros on Saturday to ease into the fourth round.

Djokovic is now 34-1 in 2020, and that loss came when he defaulted after hitting a linesperson with a ball in a fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta at the US Open last month.

The Serbian faces a bigger test in the fourth round in Paris, where Russian 15th seed Karen Khachanov awaits.

Djokovic is aiming for history at the French Open as he bids to become the first man in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam twice.

And he has made an imposing start.

Djokovic showing hard-court dominance on clay

Through three rounds, Djokovic has dropped just 15 games at the French Open.

He has dispatched of Mikael Ymer, Ricardas Berankis and Galan to cruise through the first week.

The 15 games lost is comfortably the most dominant Djokovic has been through the opening three rounds at the tournament. His previous best was 23 in 2012, when he made the final before losing to Rafael Nadal.

It is just the third time in his illustrious career that Djokovic has dropped 15 or fewer games through three rounds – when every match has been completed to that point – at any major. It follows the 2012 Australian Open, when he lost just 10, and the US Open (14) later that year. Djokovic won the title in Melbourne in 2012, but fell to Andy Murray in the final at Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic has won 11 of his 17 majors on hard courts, but his dominance at this year's French Open has so far been similar.

Compared to the king

Incredibly, Djokovic's start matches Nadal's best at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard is the undisputed king.

Nadal has won 12 French Open titles in 15 appearances, but only once has he started the way Djokovic has in 2020. That came in 2017, when he also dropped 15 games through three rounds on his way to a 10th French Open crown.

The Spanish great destroyed Benoit Paire, Robin Haase and Nikoloz Basilashvili to begin the tournament three years ago. He won that title losing no more than four games in a set, including thrashing Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals and Stan Wawrinka in the decider.

The 19-time grand slam champion is bidding to equal Roger Federer for the most majors won by a man, and he will always take some stopping in Paris.

Nadal has lost 19 games through three rounds this year, but that is his best start at the tournament since 2017. Lacking match practice amid the coronavirus pandemic, he is looking dangerous yet againi.

Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed his 25th win of the year to progress to the last 16 of the French Open.

The fifth seed became the first Greek player to reach this stage at Roland Garros on multiple occasions after overcoming Aljaz Bedene.

Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov will meet for the first time in the fourth round, with each having had curtailed time on court on Saturday as their respective opponents retired.

Marton Fucsovics set up a showdown with in-form Andrey Rublev, but the day arguably belonged to Daniel Altmaier, whose remarkable run continues after he dispatched world number eight Matteo Berrettini.

 

TSITSIPAS READY FOR REAL TEST

Tsitsipas barely broke sweat as he advanced to the last 16, with Bedene retiring with a foot problem in the third set.

The pair had only been on court for 80 minutes, Tsitsipas having taken a commanding 6-1 6-2 3-1 lead against the clearly hampered Slovenian.

While the match inevitably lost a level of intrigue, the same cannot be said for Tsitsipas at these finals. The 22-year-old, whose personalised face masks have been a hit at the championships, has also made a point of keeping his media duties interesting.

Perhaps that comes in part from the young Tsitsipas' journalistic background. "I was a journalist when I was 11, 12 years old. I had this Facebook page, which I very often updated with news about Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic," he explained.

"I was really into it. Every day after school I would check the results, check the current, latest tennis news. I would update it. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed doing it.

"Journalism and press and media, I love this a lot. I do understand how it operates, how it works. So for me, you know, I'm a tennis player, and if something works, I'm on the court the next day  trying to do the same thing. For me sometimes there isn't really much for me to say tactical-wise or match-wise because I'm just trying to follow the things that have been working for me."

Tsitsipas will now meet Dimitrov, who had even less time on court against Roberto Carballes, the Spaniard retiring at 1-6 3-6 down with a little over an hour played.

It is the first time Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at each of the other majors in his career, has reached the second week in Paris.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Altmaier produced the finest two hours and 15 minutes of his career as he defeated Berrettini, a semi-finalist at last year's US Open, in straight sets.

The seventh seed lost 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to the German qualifier, who is ranked 186th in the world and nearly did not compete in Paris due to injury.

"My coach and I have been working so hard to be here, and while I've struggled with a few injuries, I am super-pleased it’s at Roland Garros," said Altmaier, who is just the fifth qualifier since 2000 to reach the last 16 of a men's slam.

"Before qualifying, I was struggling with an injury, so I wasn't sure I was going to play. I hope the crowd and the TV audience enjoyed watching, as I want to entertain."

Next up for Altmaier will be Pablo Carreno Busta – himself a US Open semi-finalist just three weeks ago – after he beat compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-4 in three hours and 22 minutes.

FUCSOVICS READY FOR RUBLEV

Rublev's winning streak stretched to eight matches as he made light work of big-serving Kevin Anderson, winning 6-3 6-2 6-3 in just 94 minutes.

Anderson, the former world number five, hit 33 unforced errors and won just four points on Rublev's first serve as he fell to the Russian.

Rublev will now face Fucsovics, who beat Brazil's Thiago Monteiro 7-5 6-1 6-3. It will be their first meeting since the 2017 Davis Cup, when Fucsovics fought from two sets down to help Hungary to a 3-1 victory.

"We were different players," said Fucsovics. "Right now he's just about to break in the top 10. I got more matured. I have more experience. I'm fit now, fitter than ever. I'm looking forward to playing a good match against him, try to break through finally to the quarter-finals."

Hugo Gaston was the toast of Roland Garros as the young Frenchman announced himself to the tennis world by sinking former champion Stan Wawrinka.

Ranked a lowly 239th in the world, Toulouse-born Gaston was tackling a player who has reached two French Open finals and eyeing a third trip to the title match.

Left-hander Gaston had other ideas though, and in a third-round contest that was halted by rain for over two hours in the third set, he scored a 2-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-0 over the illustrious Swiss.

That victory came on a Friday when 12-time champion Rafael Nadal produced what he described as his best tennis so in his favourite grand slam, as he and Dominic Thiem remained on course for a semi-final showdown.

Lorenzo Sonego won an epic third set tie-break against Taylor Fritz, taking it 19-17 to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time, while his fellow Italian Jannik Sinner and American Sebastian Korda also entered previously uncharted territory in their careers.

GASTON'S BIG MOMENT

Already the last French player standing in the men's singles, the prospect of Gaston ending Wawrinka's hopes looked slim, with the three-time grand slam winner having looked sharp in the first two rounds, beating Andy Murray and the useful German Dominik Koepfer.

Yet Gaston, a wildcard entry who only turned 20 last Saturday, gave French tennis a major shot in the arm with a terrific performance.

He and Wawrinka had to retreat to the locker room at 2-2 in the third set, with the match finely poised, and an immediate break on the resumption from Gaston spoke volumes for his focus.

The deciding set was strangely one-sided, and Gaston, who benefited from 74 unforced errors from the Wawrinka racket, was able to celebrate the greatest moment of his fledgling career.

He said afterwards: "It's crazy what's happening. I tried to play my game, I went on the court to win."

Addressing the small crowd on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, he added: "I didn't necessarily think I would win, but you pushed me. Thank you all."

On the prospect of facing Thiem, Gaston said: "It's going to be a crazy experience. I will do everything to win too."

The ATP revealed Gaston is the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round of the French Open since Arnaud Di Pasquale in 2002 achieved the feat when 283rd in the world.

THIEM IN RUUD HEALTH

Thiem, the third seed, dashed to a 6-4 6-3 6-1 win against Norway's Casper Ruud. It was a case of the Austrian making light work of what looked a tricky task against a player who reached semi-finals in Rome and Hamburg before coming to Paris.

He got the job done in two and a quarter hours, and at that stage would have been expecting to face Wawrinka in the fourth round.

Thiem will no doubt do his homework on Gaston before they play, with the recently crowned US Open champion targeting a third visit to the French Open final, having been runner-up in each of the last two years.

"Of course I'm starting to feel all the last weeks physically, also emotionally," Thiem said. "I really love this tournament, and I would love to go deep to play well. I'll do everything to get a good recovery."

RAFA BEGINNING TO PURR

A 96th match win at Roland Garros from Nadal came moments after Gaston's thunder-stealing moment.

He swept away the hopes of Italian Stefano Travaglia, a 6-1 6-4 6-0 victory emphasising the form Nadal is running into, having delayed his post-lockdown return to action and skipped the US Open.

Next for Nadal is Korda, and the son of former French Open runner-up Petr Korda revealed that as a youngster he had a pet cat Rafa, named after the Spanish great.

"That says a lot about how much I love the guy," Korda said.

Responding to that bombshell, Nadal said: "Well, that means that I have been on the TV for such a long time, that's the main thing. The same like when I was a kid, I was watching Sampras, Agassi, Carlos Moya.

"Another negative thing is that it means I'm 34. That's another point that is not beautiful. But I'm happy to hear that. I know he's playing great. He's a very young kid with a lot of power. I think he has an amazing future - hopefully not yet."

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