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Sweet 16 for Djokovic, Federer as Barty limps out of French Open

ROGER FEDERER
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning against Croatia’s Marin Cilic. (AFP)

PARIS (AFP) ‒ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both reached the French Open third round for the 16th time on Thursday as the battle for the women’s title was thrown wide open after world number one Ashleigh Barty limped out.

Top seed Djokovic continued his bid for a second Roland Garros and 19th Grand Slam title with a straight-sets win over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

The 34-year-old, who is looking to become the first man in more than 50 years to claim all four Slams multiple times, won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Djokovic will next face Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas. (AFP)

Federer stayed on course for a quarter-final showdown with Djokovic but only after becoming entangled in a rare running dispute with the chair umpire.

The 20-time major winner and 2009 champion in Paris saw off Marin Cilic for the 10th time in 11 meetings, winning 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

Federer was handed a time violation by umpire Emmanuel Joseph at 1-3 down in the second set for taking too long between points.

Playing in only his second French Open since 2015, Federer goes on to face Germany’s 59th-ranked Dominik Koepfer.

Women’s top seed Barty, already suffering from a left hip injury, retired injured midway through the second set of her second-round match against Poland’s 45th-ranked Magda Linette.

The Australian, who won the title on her last visit to Roland Garros in 2019, left the court for medical treatment after losing the first set 6-1.

She then called it quits at 2-2 in the second set on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Barty said. “It’s a miracle I got past the first round.”

The 25-year-old’s withdrawal leaves the tournament already without the world’s top three-ranked women’s players.

World number two Naomi Osaka pulled out following a media boycott, saying she has suffered “bouts of depression” for three years.

Third-ranked Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open winner, withdrew before the event with injury.

– Birthday boy Nadal –

RAFAEL NADAL (AFP)

World number three Rafael Nadal, bidding for a 14th French Open and record-setting 21st Grand Slam title, celebrates his 35th birthday by facing Richard Gasquet, a player he first met when they were 12 years old.

However, schedulers have handed the Spaniard the evening session, meaning no fans on site as the match clashes with a 9 pm Covid-19 curfew.

Gasquet won his first junior clash against Nadal at the Petits As tournament in France in 1999.

Sadly for him, that was as good as it would ever get.

On the ATP Tour, Nadal has monopoliZed their head-to-head and leads 16-0.

Gael Monfils’ 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 defeat by Mikel Ymer means Gasquet would have to beat Nadal to avoid the hosts suffering their worst year in men’s singles since 1968.

Elsewhere Thursday, fourth seed Sofia Kenin, the 2020 runner-up, saw off American compatriot Hailey Baptiste 7-5, 6-3.

Three-time quarter-finalist and fifth seed Elina Svitolina was similarly untroubled against Ann Li of the United States, winning 6-0, 6-4.

However, ninth seed Karolina Pliskova exited at the hands of 2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens as the 59th-ranked American won 7-5, 6-1.

– Alcaraz record –

Carlos Alcaraz, 18, on Monday became the youngest player to win a match at Roland Garros since Djokovic in 2005.

If the Spaniard beats 28th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili Thursday, he will be the youngest man to reach the French Open last 32 since Andrei Medvedev in 1992.

Two Italian teens made it through with 18th seeded Jannik Sinner seeing off compatriot Gianluca Mager while highly-rated Lorenzo Musetti put out Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

Defending women’s champion Iga Swiatek takes on Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.

Swiatek has hit with Nadal this week, a meeting which made her so nervous that the Pole prepared a list of helpful conversation starters should she get tongue-tied.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Desk

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