Dominant Djokovic Charges Into Roland Garros QFs
Djokovic dominated his No. 94-ranked opponent on Court Philippe Chatrier, where he struck the ball cleanly off both wings throughout his one-hour, 57-minute victory. He fired 35 winners and converted six of the 12 break points he earned to book a clash against Karen Khachanov in the last eight in Paris.
“[There was] great energy on the court, from the crowd and myself as well,” said Djokovic after the match. “I really enjoyed it, my best performance in the tournament so far.
“It came exactly at the right time, as I’m coming in to the second week and obviously playing another quarter-final, the matches are going to get tougher. Bigger challenges, but I like the way I’m playing and the way I’m feeling, so I look forward to a new challenge.”
Djokovic has triple motivation to push for the title in the French capital. A third Roland Garros crown would also represent a record 23rd major victory for the Serbian, while Djokovic would also return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings by lifting the trophy.
“[I’m] definitely better than I did in the last couple of months,” said Djokovic, when asked about whether the opportunity to create Grand Slam history brought him extra nerves. “The past 10 days have been the best that I have felt since the Australian Open, so that’s good. That’s positive news. I just have to keep going and not allow myself to think too far [ahead], but I’m on a good path.”
Varillas had won three five-setters to reach this stage, a run that included upsets of seeded opponents Roberto Bautista Agut and Hubert Hurkacz. The Peruvian rarely looked like repeating that feat against Djokovic, however, as he struggled to penetrate the third seed’s rock-solid defence on the Paris clay.
After fending off break point to hold in the opening game of the match, Djokovic raced to a 4-0 lead with some early high-class baseline hitting. The 36-year-old struck consistently with depth and power, offering Varillas few opportunities to dictate rallies. Aside from dropping serve in the fifth game as Varillas battled, Djokovic delivered a near-complete display to improve to 89-16 at Roland Garros.
Despite defeat to Djokovic, Varillas leaves Paris with fond memories of a dream run to his first fourth-round appearance at a major. The 27-year-old, who is the Peruvian to reach that stage at Roland Garros since Jaime Yzaga in 1994, has risen 34 spots to No. 60 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as a result of his exploits in Paris.
Khachanov earlier advanced to his third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-1 victory against Lorenzo Sonego.
The 11th-seeded Khachanov fell behind quickly against the ultra-aggressive Sonego, but after levelling the match by clinching the only break of the second set, he produced a crucial comeback in the third-set tie-break to assume control of the match. Khachanov rallied from 0/4 and saved a set point at 6/7 before prevailing, and then dominated the third set for a three-hour, 29-minute triumph.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour.
Khachanov, who reached the semi-finals at last year’s US Open and the Australian Open in January, finished the match having struck 36 winners to 34 unforced errors. He is now 21-6 at Roland Garros, where he also reached the quarter-finals in 2019.
“He was 6-1, 2-1, and I think that was a long game on my serve... I was a little bit surprised, because he was so energised," said Khachanov in his post-match press conference. "Putting all the balls in, aggressive, drop shots, serves, returns.
“I just had to stay into the match. I had to stay focused and to try to change something and basically to maintain the level and see if he can continue playing like this during three consecutive sets or not. That was the goal in that moment.”
With his run in Paris so far this fortnight, Khachanov has risen one spot to No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 27-year-old has reached a career-high of No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings but has not been in the Top 10 since October 2019.