Paris, Jun 8:
Novak Djokovic went from a big deficit to his best tennis at the French Open on Monday, erasing a two-set hole and grabbing 13 games in a row in a dominant display before his opponent stopped playing because of a back problem.
The result officially goes into the books as a retirement by Lorenzo Musetti, a talented 19-year-old from Italy making his Grand Slam debut. The score when he quit showed Djokovic ahead 6-7 (7-9), 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0.
Defending champion, Rafael Nadal, however, had a smooth progress to the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 over Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
It took Djokovic more than two sets and two hours to get going in the right direction at Court Philippe Chatrier, but once he did, it became a one-way journey. That included a 19-point run for him bridging the end of the third set and start of the fourth.
Musetti, so good at the outset with his one-handed backhand and tremendous touch, is hardly used to this best-of-five-set format at the majors and he took a medical timeout after the fourth. The French tennis federation said Musetti’s reason for stopping was back pain.
This was the second five-setter of Musetti’s career he won his third-rounder that way while Djokovic improved to 34-10 when going the distance. The 34-year-old from Serbia reached his record 15th quarterfinal in Paris and 49th major quarterfinal in all. It will come against another Italian, number 9 seed Matteo Berrettini, who advanced without needing to swing his racket once Monday.
That’s because the man Berrettini was supposed to face in the fourth round, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, withdrew in order to let his surgically repaired right knee and the rest of his 39-year-old body rest with an eye on Wimbledon later this month.
In women’s play, 17-year-old American Coco Gauff became the youngest player since 2006 to reach the women’s quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament by overwhelming No. 25 seed Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-1 in under an hour.
Gauff now meets Barbora Krejcikova, who reached her first major quarterfinal with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up.
Maria Sakkari, who is seeded 17th, beat No. 4 Sofia Kenin, last year’s runner-up, 6-1, 6-3. Sakkari’s quarterfinal opponent will be 2020 champion Iga Swiatek or Marta Kostyuk.