Iga Swiatek revealed she sang a Dua Lipa song to take her mind off a difficult first set in her French Open victory against Zheng Qinwen.

World number one Swiatek extended her astonishing winning run to 32 matches by beating Zheng in the fourth round at Roland Garros, with only Venus Williams (35) and Serena Williams (34) now having enjoyed longer streaks this century – although the Pole remains a long way short of Martina Navratilova's outrageous all-time record of 74.

But Swiatek was made to work for this victory, dropping a set for the first time in more than a month as Zheng took the opener 7-6 (7-5).

Swiatek ultimately considered this a positive, though, responding with her 16th 6-0 set of the year in the second en route to winning 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 6-2.

"For sure, for me, I'm taking a lot of confidence in my comeback in the second set," she said afterwards. "So I think it's important that I had this kind of match, which is kind of like a cold shower.

"It reminded me how to find these solutions after losing a first set. Yeah, I feel when I'm going to take some positives from it. I think it's going to give me a lot before the next matches."

Yet what were Swiatek's solutions?

"It wasn't easy to find solutions and to find other tactics and to do something differently, because I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong," she explained.

"In the first set, I get many technical [things] that I wanted to change, like staying lower in my legs and sometimes not pushing the ball but swinging it like I was doing, like I would do normally.

"She was playing really fast balls, and it wasn't easy to loosen up, because I felt a little bit tense.

"So, in the second set, I just wanted to focus more and not really talk to the box maybe that much.

"And honestly, I speeded up a little bit my forehand. Maybe that was the solution. But I felt like my mind is a little bit more clear.

"I was sometimes just singing songs, and I realised in the first set, when I was really focusing on that technical stuff, it didn't really work, because I got more and more tense when I couldn't do that and couldn't really prepare to the shot the best way.

"I was singing in my mind, basically. That's not the first time. I'm always singing something, but I changed the song. It was Dua Lipa, so kind of a guilty pleasure."

Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the French Open in straight sets to Marin Cilic, who hailed the victory as one of the best of his career after producing a scintillating display on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Second seed Medvedev was blown away 6-2 6-3 6-2 in just one hour and 45 minutes, with the 33-year-old Cilic not looking back after forcing successive breaks to wrap up the first set.

Having broken Medvedev's serve six games into the opener, the 2014 US Open champion did likewise en route to clinching the second set, with Cilic winning 90 per cent of first-serve points over the course of a dominant display.

If Medvedev still harboured hopes of a comeback at that point, they were swiftly dashed in the third set as Cilic maintained his relentless pace, breaking the world number two in each of his first two service games as he went on to record his first career win over the Russian.

Medvedev failed to force a single break point during a miserable outing under the floodlights, with the near-flawless Cilic not registering a single double fault as he reached his first grand slam quarter-final since the 2018 US Open.

Speaking on court after teeing up a last-eight meeting with Andrey Rublev, Cilic said the win was one of the best of his career.

"It was an absolutely fantastic match, from the first point until the last. I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoy the night sessions here," he said.

"I played incredible tennis, one of the best matches of my career, from start to finish, and I just enjoyed being here.

"We only have one opportunity to play this sport so I try to always give my best, even when things don't go my way.

"When you're working hard and when you're really persistent, really consistent with your training, good things come. It's a great feeling to be playing again like this."

Roland Garros will play host to the latest instalment of one of tennis's greatest rivalries on Tuesday, after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic set up their 59th career meeting in the French Open quarter-finals.

The duo, who boast 41 career grand slam titles between them, will meet again after Nadal overcame Felix Auger-Aliassime in a marathon four-hour contest on Sunday, with Djokovic having cruised past Diego Schwartzman in the round of 16.

The illustrious duo first met at the same stage of the tournament in 2006, when Djokovic was forced to retire through injury, and the world number one will be determined to achieve a better outcome this time around as he bids to equal Nadal's haul of 21 grand slam titles.

Ahead of their blockbuster encounter, Stats Perform takes a look at the best Opta facts surrounding their rivalry. 

16 years on from their first meeting, the duo have certainly become familiar with one another. They have met more often than any other male pair in the open era, with Djokovic triumphing on 30 occasions.

That impressive tally represents the most wins managed by any player against a single opponent in the open era.

The duo have also become accustomed to meeting on the biggest stages; this contest will be their 18th grand slam clash, surpassing Djokovic's record tally of 17 major matches against Roger Federer.

Meanwhile, the duo will face each other for a 10th time at the French Open (Nadal has seven wins, Djokovic two), becoming the first male duo to reach double figures for meetings at a particular grand slam in the open era, and will extend their record for the most encounters on clay courts with a 27th such match (Nadal versus Federer is second with 22).

While top seed Djokovic is bidding to replicate Nadal's record of 21 grand slam wins, a tally the Spaniard reached at this year's Australian Open, his opponent boasts an incredible record on clay.

Nadal's 97.3 per cent win ratio at the French Open is the highest of any player at a single open-era slam (minimum 20 wins), while Djokovic's 85 per cent win rate at Roland Garros is his worst such record at any grand slam – even if it is the third-highest ratio in the tournament's history (Bjorn Borg is second with 96.1 per cent).

Nadal has also reached the most French Open finals, with 13, winning all of them, while Djokovic has managed the second-most final appearances in Paris, with six. Three of those, however, ended with the Serb finishing as runner-up to the king of clay, as he did so in 2012, 2014, and 2020.


But Djokovic will hope to draw inspiration from his two previous victories over the world number five in the French capital. 

Having beaten the Spaniard in the 2015 quarter-finals and the 2021 semi-finals, Djokovic is one of just two players to have ever beaten Nadal at the French Open, along with Robin Soderling in 2009's fourth round.

One thing is for certain; their encounter is sure to provide quality. Nadal (88 per cent) and Djokovic (87.7 per cent) have the second- and third-highest grand slam win ratios in open-era history (Bjorn Borg is first with 89.2 per cent, minimum 100 wins). 

Casper Ruud described his French Open win over Hubert Hurkacz as the "perfect" way to tee up his first grand slam quarter-final appearance, as the eighth seed looks to extend the best major run of his career. 

Ruud downed Hurkacz 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-3 in 2 hours and 31 minutes on Monday to make the last-eight of the singles draw at a grand slam for the first time in his career, bettering his run to the fourth round at the Australian Open last year.

The Norwegian will face talented teenager Holger Rune for a spot in the semi-finals after the 19-year-old became the first Danish man to reach a grand slam quarter-final in the Open era by eliminating Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Speaking at his post-match news conference, Ruud said the win featured some of his best tennis this year.

"I feel good, of course. It's a good result. To make my first quarter-final here in Roland Garros means a lot. It's the first grand slam that I visited as a kid," he said.

"It's nice to get one of my best results of my career so far here. I hope I can continue the level of my tennis and [keep] the streak going.

"Today I think I played some of my best tennis this year for the first two sets. [In the] fourth set as well, I played well when I had to come back.

"I think that's a perfect way to go into a quarter-final for me. Hopefully I can reach a step or two or three more."

After recording his career-best major performance, Ruud – who lost his first ATP 1000 final to Carlos Alcaraz at the Miami Open in April – was keen to go further, saying he will only allow himself to look back upon the milestone at the end of his campaign.

"Well, I mean, of course, it's a new milestone. [But] when I'm playing the tournament, playing the match, I don't really think too much about it," he added.

"Of course, when I'm done with this or when this tournament is over for me, I will look back and think that I did a good job and did a good result and made my best result in a grand slam.

"It is going to change, of course, the way I think I look at the grand slams in the future, when you know you have reached a quarter-final one time. It has been a big goal for me this year, and to reach it is a good feeling.

"But of course, when you reach a goal, you make new goals. That's usually how it goes. My new goal will be in a few days' time to try to reach the semi-final."

With many of the game's biggest names, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz all landing on the opposite side of the draw to Ruud, the 23-year-old may not get too many better chances to enjoy a deep grand slam run.

And the Norwegian suggested pundits may have placed too much focus on a few big names in the build-up to Roland Garros, adding: "Before the tournament, there was, of course, already a lot of talk who the favourite was.

"I think everyone was talking about the top half of the draw with Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz of course there, [but] there are many other good players in the tournament." 

Stefanos Tsitsipas branded his performance against Holger Rune "ridiculous", admitting he allowed his frustrations to get the better of him on court during his shock last-16 exit at the French Open.

Having finished as runner-up at Roland Garros last year, the fourth seed crashed out in the fourth round this time around, going down 7-5 3-6 6-3 6-4 to the Danish teenager, who had only managed one previous win over a top-five opponent. 

The three-hour contest began with Tsitsipas earning an early break, but the Greek went on to struggle against the 19-year-old, who became the first Danish player to reach a grand slam quarter-final during the open era.

Speaking during his post-match press conference, a visibly emotional Tsitsipas admitted he struggled to apply enough pressure on Rune, highlighting his own lack of rhythm on court.

"Great match from his side, but I have to say it was a very bad management from my side," he said.

"I was struggling a lot the last couple of days in terms of finding my rhythm. I was very nervous on the court, being frustrated a lot, and I knew I was this way, but I couldn't stop being like this.

"I was a completely different player once I stepped into the court, taking returns [too] early.

"I think we could see that in the last two service games of his, I was really able to apply a lot of pressure; it was day and night, pretty much, that transformation.

"I just, you know, didn't have my mind completely there when I had to make those changes. It came way too late on in that match, way too late.

"I wasn't really applying a lot of pressure, it was ridiculous at a point, and again I was stubborn, I was stubborn to change it. I need to adjust way quicker, it's too late for this stuff."

Tsitsipas, who squandered a two-set lead in his 2021 final defeat to Novak Djokovic in the French capital, had been tipped by many to repeat his run to the final after landing on the opposite side of the draw to pre-tournament favourites Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz.

But the Greek refuted suggestions the pressure that comes with a supposedly kinder draw had hindered his performances, telling reporters: "Absolutely not. I don't watch draws, I don't watch my next opponents. 

"I pretty much know the progress and the way I need to do things in order to get to where I was last year, and that doesn't come easy, for sure.

"Of course, I knew I'm going to have to play difficult opponents that know how to play on this surface, but mentally, physically, tennis-wise, I felt good.

"It's just that I had a few troubles in practice. Again, back to frustration, back to not understanding certain things and certain patterns that I was trying to impose.

"He [Rune] is a very emotional player, he can play great, he absolutely deserves this victory, [he] played better, faced tough moments better. But I can see something different next time with this opponent. I'm pretty convinced I can do way better.

"This is not where I've maxed out, let's say. I didn't give myself the opportunity to max out. I didn't give myself the opportunity to go all the way and that is a shame."

Sixteen years after they first met in a grand slam Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will do battle in another mouthwatering French Open quarter-final on Tuesday.

Two of the all-time greats have locked horns 58 times in their illustrious careers, but only two of those meetings have been in the last eight of a major.

The first of those was in their first meeting, which happened to be at the same stage at Roland Garros back in 2006.

Nadal progressed to the semi-finals on that occasion as Djokovic retired at 6-4 6-4 down and the legendary Spaniard went on to defend his title and double his tally of major triumphs.

He has gone on to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires a record 13 times and no man can boast more than his tally of 21 grand slam titles.

Yet Nadal comes into the latest instalment of their rivalry under the lights on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the unfamiliar position of not being a strong favourite to prevail.

While world number one and defending champion Djokovic has not dropped a set in his four matches in Paris, Nadal needed five sets to get the better of Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.

Nadal had to draw on all of his fight, skill and experience to see off the Canadian in an enthralling contest that had spectators on the edge of their seats for four hours and 21 minutes.

Djokovic beat Nadal in four sets the last time they faced each other in this tournament last year and the Serb went on to be crowned French Open champion for the second time.

The top seed from Belgrade would move level with Nadal's haul of major crowns if he triumphs at Roland Garros once again on Sunday.

Djokovic holds a superior record of 30-28 in his head-to-head with Nadal, but the latter has won seven of their nine matches at Roland Garros.

Nadal started his favourite tournament with only five matches on clay under his belt this season after recovering from a foot injury, but he is relishing the challenge of facing one of his biggest rivals.

He said: "I didn't play this kind of matches for the last three months, so it's going to be a big challenge for me. Of course he already won I think nine matches in a row, winning in Rome and now winning here in straight sets every match.

"Probably he will be confident. I know what my situation is, and I accept it well. I am gonna fight for it, that's it."

Djokovic hopes being the fresher of the two will be crucial.

"Nadal is obviously a well-anticipated match I think when the draw came out for a lot of people. I'm glad that I didn't spend too much time on the court up to quarter-finals, knowing that playing him in Roland Garros is always a physical battle, along with everything else," he said.

"It's a huge challenge and probably the biggest one that you can have here in Roland Garros."

While Djokovic did not spend much time on court in the first week in Paris, he could be in for a late night when the two tussle in what could be yet another epic.

Daria Kasatkina feels she has cut the "kid bulls***" out of her game after securing a straight-sets win over Camila Giorgi to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

The Russian delivered a convincing 6-2 6-2 victory over the Italian with a convincingly mature performance, to reach the last eight at Roland Garros for the second time in her career.

Kasatkina has yet to drop a set and has conceded just 14 games across her four matches at Roland Garros so far.

The 20th seed has previously spoken about wanting to showcase a more mature approach to her game, and mooted that she has increased her focus in her overall performances.

"Why are you asking me this?" Kasatkina quipped in her post-game briefing before laughing when asked in what ways she has matured – and where she has not.

"I want to say I've become much more mature and that's it. [I'm] not thinking how exactly.

"But as I said, with the decisions on the court, with my time management off the court as well I'm trying to be more focused on what I'm doing, what is important, not the kid bulls***, let's say.

"And that's it, because it's very tough to keep the focus and it's very easy to lose it. So I'm working a lot to be more focused on my job."

Kasatkina will face compatriot Veronika Kudermetova in the last eight after she fought back to beat American Madison Keys.

Sixteen years after their rivalry began with a Roland Garros quarter-final, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will do battle again in the last eight of the French Open.

Nadal promised he will be "focused" for the big occasion, set to come on Tuesday, while Djokovic said he was ready for "a physical battle, along with everything else".

They could hardly have had more contrasting wins to set up that eagerly awaited match, however, with Djokovic enjoying a 6-1 6-3 6-3 Sunday stroll past Diego Schwartzman, before Nadal was pushed almost to his limit by Felix Auger-Aliassime, scraping a 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory in four hours and 21 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime has Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, on his coaching team now, but the 21-year-old Canadian played down that factor before the match, and it was a mere sideshow to the spectacle that unfolded.

Now Nadal and Djokovic can prepare for centre stage. The illustrious pair have never collided as early as the quarter-final stage at any other grand slam, but their clash in Paris will be a third such last-eight clash at the French major.

All matches considered, it will be a 59th career meeting, with Djokovic up to now holding a 30-28 lead in the head-to-head.

Nadal leads 10-7 in their grand slam matches, however, and has a 7-2 record in their Roland Garros past encounters, albeit losing the last of those in last year's semi-final.

The very first match between the pair came at Roland Garros in the 2006 quarter-finals, when Djokovic retired at 6-4 6-4 behind, giving up due to a back injury during the first game of the third set.

Nine years later, Djokovic thrashed Nadal 7-5 6-3 6-1 at the same stage to end the Spaniard's five-year all-conquering reign on the French capital's clay courts.

Djokovic called the upcoming reunion "a well-anticipated match", and he was delighted to get the job done quickly against an overwhelmed Schwartzman. The world number one has yet to drop a set in four matches in Paris, and that follows on from his triumph at the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome where he raced to the title without dropping a set either.

Assessing the Nadal prospect, Djokovic said: "I'm glad that I didn't spend too much time on the court myself up to the quarter-finals, knowing that playing him in Roland Garros is always a physical battle, along with everything else."

The "everything else" element of that may mean the feverish backing that Nadal is likely to receive, but Djokovic wants his tennis to do the talking.

"It's a huge challenge and probably the biggest one that you can have here in Roland Garros," said the Serbian. "I'm ready for it. I like the way I have been feeling, the way I have been hitting the ball. I will focus on what I need to do."

This is a first match of the year between Djokovic and Nadal. They have played each other at least once every year since that 2006 first encounter.

After describing Auger-Aliassime as "without a doubt one of the best players in the world", Nadal, who is again battling the foot problem that has plagued his career, turned his focus to the man who surely currently tops that list.

Nadal is nevertheless one ahead of Djokovic on the all-time list of most grand slam titles, having won the Australian Open in January when Djokovic was prevented from competing to move to 21 major successes.

Booing broke out when Djokovic's name was mentioned in Nadal's post-match on-court interview, an early indication that the record 13-time French Open champion will have the crowd's support.

"Of course we know each other well. We have a lot of history together," Nadal said. "He came here after winning Rome, and for me it has been not the ideal situation to arrive here.

"But here we are in Roland Garros, it is my favourite place without a doubt, and the only thing I can tell you is I will be focused. I don't know what will happen, but the only thing I can guarantee is I am going to fight until the end."

The last time Nadal and Djokovic met so early in any tournament was in May 2016 on clay in Rome, when Djokovic beat Nadal in straight sets but went on to lose to Andy Murray in the final.

Since then there have been four semi-finals and five finals between the pair, Nadal edging those matches five wins to four. This is knife-edge tennis, not to be missed.

Rafael Nadal set up the blockbuster quarter-final against Novak Djokovic that the French Open has been waiting for, but he was pushed all the way by Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The 13-time champion emerged as a winner by a 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 scoreline in four hours and 21 minutes of dramatic duelling on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Those inside the stadium court roared with the fervour of football supporters as Nadal crossed the winning line, a day after watching his beloved Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the Champions League final at the Stade de France.

If defending champion Djokovic watched this, he would have observed chinks in the Nadal armour, but the great Spaniard's commitment to his craft remains resolute. He hates losing, could not abide the thought of tumbling out in the fourth round, and duly pulled out every stop to avoid that happening.

Looking ahead to the tussle with Djokovic, Nadal said afterwards: "I don't know what will happen, but the only thing I can guarantee is I am going to fight until the end."

Nadal dropped serve in the fourth game of the match and again in the sixth to trail 5-1, and he began the recovery from there, snatching a break back.

Although he had been unable to retrieve the opening set, Nadal was suddenly dialled in. At 35, coming up for 36 in the coming week, he is 14 years Auger-Aliassime's senior and has a dodgy foot, but Nadal's movement was somehow still that of a young man.

From 3-3 in the second set, Nadal won six of the next seven games to take command, soon snatching a second break in set three as he accelerated away from a player who until this year had never won a match at Roland Garros.

Making it to the fourth round signifies progress on Auger-Aliassime's part but facing the master of these courts was always a tall order. It was to the ninth seed's enormous credit that he gave the match a fresh twist by breaking twice early in the fourth set and forcing the decider.

At 4-3 in the fifth, on serve, Nadal had a break-point opportunity and his tiring legs carried him to stunning heights when he moved Auger-Aliassime into trouble at the net with a delicious, dipping backhand, and then dashed towards the net to dink a winner out of his opponent's reach.

This time Auger-Aliassime did not come back. On match point in the next game, Nadal sent a forehand into an open court after manoeuvring Auger-Aliassime out of position once more, and it brought the house down. He now has 109 wins from 112 singles matches at this tournament.

Data slam: Nadal goes the distance, finds a way

Only three times has Nadal played a fifth set at the French Open, and he has won them all, defeating John Isner in the 2011 first round and Djokovic in the 2013 semi-finals, and now Auger-Aliassime.


Nadal – 47/41
Auger-Aliassime – 50/54

Nadal – 3/4
Auger-Aliassime – 7/4

Nadal – 6/22
Auger-Aliassime – 4/9

French Open quarter-finalist Coco Gauff feels as though she is improving with every match played as she eyes a shot at grand slam glory.

World number 23 Gauff burst onto the scene in 2019 with a run to the Wimbledon round of 16, but it took until last year's French Open for the teenage sensation to make her first grand slam quarter-final.

Gauff lost to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova on that occasion, but she has repeated the feat this time, reaching the last eight after defeating Elise Mertens 6-4 6-0 on Sunday.

That makes the 18-year-old the seventh American female to reach two or more quarter-finals at Roland Garros before turning 19 in the Open Era, after Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Kathy Horvath, Mary Joe Fernandez, Monica Seles, and Jennifer Capriati. 

A last-eight tie with compatriot Sloane Stephens awaits for Gauff, whose sole title in 2021 came in Parma on clay.

Gauff feels she is getting better match by match, telling a news conference: "I really enjoy clay and the crowd. I feel like every match I'm getting better.

"I think today even though I had some tough moments I was able to tough it out. I really do feel like I'm progressing with each match.

"I definitely feel confident on the court. I feel like [clay] really suits my game. The previous tournaments this clay season, I had some good wins but it wasn't really any outstanding results.

"I feel like it gave me a lot to learn from, and I think I'm taking those tough matches that I lost this season and really learning from them and I guess showing that I'm doing better."

Gauff was then asked to grade herself and how she thinks she can get to "the top of the class".

She explained: "You're never going to play your best tennis in a slam every moment of the match, but I think I'm getting better and better, and I think mentally I can't ask for much more from myself in each match.

"I mean today in the first set I had a lot of points that I probably should have closed out and made some errors on balls that I probably shouldn't have. I just stayed in it.

"I didn't not trust myself because I started to make those shots in the second set.

"To make it to the top of the class, I think just keep doing what I'm doing and not freaking out in those moments. I didn't freak out when a couple of those important points didn't go my way."

Leylah Fernandez is thriving again thanks to her "underdog" spirit as last year's US Open runner-up mounts a Roland Garros challenge.

The Canadian produced an against-the-odds run in New York, before losing out to fellow shock finalist Emma Raducanu, and it might just be happening again at the French Open for the 19-year-old.

A fluent French speaker, she has the home crowd behind her and was a popular 6-3 4-6 6-3 winner against American Amanda Anisimova on Sunday, reaching the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time.

Fernandez has an Ecuadorian-born father, Jorge, who serves as her coach, and the teenager said she hoped a little "Latino fire" could propel her deeper into the tournament.

"Every time I step out on the court I still have something to prove," said Fernandez. "I still have that mindset I'm the underdog.

"I'm still young, I still have a lot to show to the people, to the public so that they can just enjoy the tennis match. That's ultimately my goal, and that's why I want to do well in matches."

Fernandez, a big football fan, was delighted to show Thierry Henry exactly what she can do as the former Arsenal, Barcelona and France striker watched on from the stands.

"To see him do a standing ovation for our match is just an incredible feeling and hopefully I can reproduce that level again," Fernandez said.

"I just love that players are bringing their own personality and their own culture on court."

Referring to her next opponent, Martina Trevisan, Fernandez said: "She's Italian, so they are very passionate about their sports.

"I think it just brings another good entertainment for the fans. That's what I try to do sometimes too, to bring my dad's Latino culture on court too, bring that fire."

Trevisan, who toppled Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the fourth round, has become just the third Italian women to reach two or more singles quarter-finals at Roland Garros in the Open Era, after Sara Errani (four) and 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone (three).

World number 18 Fernandez is the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of the draw, but she is cautious about acknowledging the opportunity opening up for her.

"Honestly, there is no opening," she said. "All the players that are still present at this stage of the tournament are excellent players.

"They work very hard. They have this winning mentality. So there is absolutely no opening. It will be a difficult match. Each match will be difficult."

Novak Djokovic says previous failures at the French Open add "more significance" to his quest for Roland Garros glory.

Djokovic has not dropped a set in each of his last nine matches, dating back to his Internazionali d'Italia win, after cruising to a 6-1 6-3 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman on Sunday.

The world number one has reached a record 16 quarter-finals at the Paris major, while only Roger Federer (58) has reached the last eight at grand slams more times than Djokovic (51).

But Djokovic has not always enjoyed success in the French capital, losing three finals against Rafael Nadal (twice in 2012 and 2014) and Stan Wawrinka in 2015 before defeating Andy Murray the next year.

The Serbian added a second French Open crown to his trophy haul in 2021 by edging out Stefanos Tsitsipas.

As Djokovic looks to defend his title, the 35-year-old explained he has an added incentive given his previous struggles in the tournament.

"It took me years and years to win the title here," he told reporters. "Of course I had some big heartbreaks on the court here, many finals lost and semi-finals, thrilling marathon matches, mostly against Rafa prior to 2016.

"It was very special, very emotional to clinch that title in 2016. It was a huge relief more than anything.

"So in the years to come, I was still continuing to play consistently well here then luckily got another title last year, somehow winning a title here is always probably the hardest of any slam for me.

"Last year the second week that I had here was just probably the toughest four matches, toughest seven days I had to win any slam in my career. So it gives it a little bit more of a significance, so to say."

Djokovic also suggested he is having to make adjustments based on the scheduling times, with top seeds either playing in the early afternoon or in the evening session, which can go later into the night.

"As top players, we do have requests, but those requests are not always accepted," he added. "The tournament director, along with TV, broadcasters, I think at the end of the day that's who decides.

"TV, whether they want your match, day or night, you just have to adjust to that. Obviously, depending on who you play, sometimes it's favourable to play night, sometimes day.

"There is no standard or no formula that works always. Even though I historically played very well and won a lot of matches under the lights on different slams, particularly in Australia."

Rafael Nadal lost a first set at Roland Garros for the first time since 2018 as he went behind to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Canadian Auger-Aliassime took the opening set of the pair's fourth-round match at the French Open 6-3.

It put Nadal, a 13-time champion at Roland Garros, on the back foot as he hunted a win that will tee up a quarter-final tie against Novak Djokovic, who defeated Diego Schwartzman earlier on Sunday.

And, according to ATP Media, it was the first time Nadal has lost an opening set at the French Open in four years, when he went behind to Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.

Nadal came back to win that match 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 en route to clinching his 11th Roland Garros success, and the second of four on the bounce.

Like in 2018, Nadal hit back to win the second set 6-3 against Auger-Aliassime, hauling himself level after a disappointing start.

Novak Djokovic is on course to face Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-final after defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-3.

Djokovic had not dropped a set in his last eight matches, dating back to his Internazionali d'Italia win, and had little trouble extending that run in the fourth round on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

World number 16 Schwartzman offered brief resistance to hold in a lengthy opening service game, but the Serbian managed to break his opponent on his next serve before going on to claim the first set with ease.

Defending Roland Garros champion Djokovic capitalised on an error-strewn Schwartzman performance in the first set, but it was the 35-year-old who faltered in the second as he went 3-0 down.

Djokovic made numerous mistakes at the net with his wayward backhand costing him, but he responded in emphatic fashion, rallying to win the next six games, and Schwartzman failed to recover.

World number one Djokovic broke to make it 4-2 in the final set, with Schwartzman left lamenting a break point squandered in the previous game.

Djokovic eased over the line to book his place in the last eight, where Nadal will be his opponent if the Spaniard defeats Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Data Slam: Djokovic reaches 16th quarter-final

Djokovic eased into a record-extending 16th French Open quarter-final, while Nadal could match that feat later on Sunday. In the overall grand slam quarter-final count, Roger Federer leads with 58, with Djokovic on 51 and Nadal on 45.

Djokovic – 28/31
Schwartzman – 23/45

Djokovic – 3/1
Schwartzman – 1/5

Djokovic – 6/11
Schwartzman – 1/8

Stefanos Tsitsipas said the consistency of his rivals has pushed him to become a better athlete after he eased into the French Open's last-16 with a 6-2 6-2 6-1 win over Mikael Ymer.

Having fought back from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round before downing Zdenek Kolar in an absorbing four-set contest featuring three tie-breaks, the Greek enjoyed a more routine outing against the 23-year-old Swede.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas, who finished as runner-up at Roland Garros in 2021 after squandering a two-set final lead against Novak Djokovic, has been tipped for a serious tilt at a first Grand Slam title after landing on the opposite side of the draw to many of the pre-tournament favourites.

The world number four cannot meet any of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Carlos Alcaraz until the final, seemingly giving him a shot of atoning for his final disappointment last year.

After storming to a dominant win over Ymer, the 23-year-old said the excellence of tennis' fellow leading lights has motivated him to change his lifestyle to further his chances of success.  

"Well, I will tell you that I respect a lot the top three for having been so incredibly consistent the last couple of years," he told a post-match press conference.

"I have questioned myself, how do I become a better athlete? These guys have pushed me to become a better athlete. 

"I question myself, really, what can I add to my life that can eventually help me achieve more and do more, and do better in terms of my career. So, every day is a question: What can I add?

"Looking back on the diet that I had, let's say, three or four years ago, it's nothing compared to what I have now. In terms of fitness, this is something that I have questioned a lot, as well.

"And, of course, the balance between life and career. It hasn't been easy, but I kind of feel in better control of my life right now, being focused and having control around me without relying too much on other people's feelings."

Tsitsipas was only on court for an hour and 32 minutes in his third round win, and was pleased with making quicker progress than had been the case in his previous outings at the tournament.

"I had to do my job. I had to play my tennis. I wasn't really thinking of the ease that I could maybe create in terms of a result," he added.

"But with my good efforts, the way I committed myself to every single point individually, the end was good. I was able to create a good result today with some good tennis

"It's a good thing to have a match like this every now and then, I think. It was a good performance in ways."

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