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Rediff.com  » Sports » French Open PIX: Djokovic, Zverev battle into last 16; Wozniacki cruises

French Open PIX: Djokovic, Zverev battle into last 16; Wozniacki cruises

Last updated on: June 02, 2018 08:51 IST

Images from Day 6 of the French Open.

Djokovic still battling as he edges past Bautista Agut

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point during his third round match against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former champion Novak Djokovic wore down obdurate Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut to grind out a 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 6-2 victory in the French Open third round, in Paris, on Friday.

 

Still fighting to find the form that took him to 12 majors, Djokovic huffed and puffed and demolished a racket in anger near the end of the second set, before regaining his composure to set up a last 16 clash with Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.

It was never comfortable for the 31-year-old Serb, though, and he found himself in dire trouble in the third set when dropping serve to love at 3-4.

He fell back on his old survival instincts, however, breaking back in the following game before playing a solid tiebreak to move to within a set of victory.

Thirteenth seed Bautista Agut, playing just a few days after the death of his mother, lost some belief in a fourth set played out in drizzle and Djokovic quickly wrapped up victory.

After consoling his opponent at the net Djokovic saluted the crowd who raised their umbrellas in approval.

"It was a magnificent four hours of tennis, I'm very tired but delighted to come through," 2016 champion Djokovic said on court in accomplished French. "He plays with so much consistency you have to have patience."

Djokovic is playing at his lowest seeding at a Grand Slam since 2006 having dropped to 22 in the world rankings but has now reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the 43rd time -- second on the all-time list behind Roger Federer.

Zverev comes back from brink to reach last 16

Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev consoles Bosnia and Herzegovina's Damir Dzumhur after winning their third round match. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Second seed Alexander Zverev saved a match point on his way to a five-set win over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 in the third round, securing his first trip to the last 16 at Roland Garros.

The German Wunderkid, 21, looked to be on the brink of another disappointing early exit from a Grand Slam, with 26th seed Dzumhur serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set. But Zverev held his nerve to force a tiebreak, which he won comfortably.

Matching Zverev for power and stamina and showing a fine touch, with multiple winning drop shots, Dzumhur took the match to his bigger opponent, pushing the German to his second five-set encounter in a row.

In their only previous meeting, last year in Shenzen, Dzumhur won in straight sets and he showed confidence throughout on Friday, until the closing stages.

Zverev's win, which secures his spot in the fourth round in Paris, was his first against a top 50 player in a Grand Slam.

Wozniacki crushes Parmentier to reach fourth round

Caroline Woznaicki

IMAGE: Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after winning her third round match against France's Pauline Parmentier. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki whizzed into the fourth round with a brutal 6-0, 6-3 demolition of local favourite Pauline Parmentier.

In front of an half empty Court Philippe Chatrier under threatening skies, the Danish second seed barely broke sweat to set up a meeting with Russian Daria Kasatkina.

A woeful Parmentier managed only six points in the opening set, four of them being gifted by Wozniacki's unforced errors.

There was a brief smile on wildcard Parmentier's face when she finally won three games -- after losing the first 11.

Wozniacki quickly regained control and wrapped it up on the second match point when the Frenchwoman sent a forehand long -- her 27th unforced error of the match.

Keys fends off Osaka to reach last 16

Madison Keys

IMAGE: Madison Keys of the United States reacts during her third round match against Japan's Naomi Osaka. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

American 13th seed Madison Keys overcame a second-set wobble to beat Japan's Naomi Osaka 6-1, 7-6(7) and reach the last 16 for the second time.

A match between two of the biggest hitters on the WTA Tour failed to really catch fire on a cool and half-empty Suzanne Lenglen Court with Keys helped on her way to the first set by a succession of wild errors from Osaka.

Keys broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set and looked to be closing in on a straightforward victory when 21st seed Osaka suddenly found her range and levelled the set.

Osaka's mini-revival looked to have fizzled out when she dropped serve with a double-fault at 4-4.

Keys squandered a match point in the next game, however, and the 23-year-old US Open runner-up looked increasingly tight as the set moved into a tiebreaker.

Naomi Osaka

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Osaka led 4-1 but Keys dragged it back to 4-4 with a searing backhand pass but faced a set point at 5-6 and needed some superb defence to fend off the fired-up Japanese.

Keys saved another set point at 6-7, this time with a booming first serve. She then wrong-footed Osaka to bring up a second match point and was relieved as her opponent coughed up another double-fault to end the contest.

She will face either fourth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine or Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu next.

Keys is one of three Americans to reach the third round with Sloane Stephens, who beat her in the Flushing Meadows final last year, and three-times champion Serena Williams also in the hunt.

Svitolina falls short again

Elina Svitolina

IMAGE: Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in action during her third round match against Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Elina Svitolina's French Open breakthrough was again put on hold when the Ukrainian fourth seed was knocked out 6-3, 7-5 in the third round by Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The 23-year-old Svitolina, who trains at Roland Garros and was a quarter-finalist in 2015 and 2017, had been tipped as one of the potential winners for the second year in a row after winning the Italian Open, but she never found her groove on Court One.

She dropped serve five times and made 29 unforced errors, bowing out on the first match point when she buried another forehand into the net.

Buzarnescu, who reached the final in Prague on clay last month, next faces American 13th seed Madison Keys, the 2017 US Open runner-up.

Verdasco downs Dimitrov in straight sets

Grigor Dimitrov

IMAGE: Spain's Fernando Verdasco in action during his third round match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Grigor Dimitrov's French Open hopes bit the dust as the fourth seed was outplayed by Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco in the third round, the Bulgarian losing 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4.

Dimitrov was pushed to five sets by American Jared Donaldson in the previous round and once he failed to convert four set points in the 12th game of the opener against Verdasco and lost the ensuing tiebreak, he looked flat.

The aggressive left-handed Spaniard broke twice in the second set and although he allowed Dimitrov back from 4-2 in the third, he broke again to claim his third career win against the 27-year-old.

Verdasco has now reached the last 16 in Paris for the seventh time and will hope to finally break through that barrier having fallen at that stage on six occasions.

Austria's Thiem powers his way into last 16 showdown with Nishikori

Dominic Thiem

IMAGE: Austria's Dominic Thiem in action during his third round match against Italy's Matteo Berrettini. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem muscled his way into the fourth round, putting out Italian claycourt specialist Marco Berrettini 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.

Hitting searing forehands and serves of up to 224 kph (139 mph), Thiem was in combative form on Roland Garros's No. 1 court, dubbed the bullring, eventually running away with the win.

The world number eight, who had a strong build up to the Paris major, winning in Lyon and making the final in Madrid after beating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, will take on Japan's Kei Nishikori, the 19th seed, in the last 16.

The win means Thiem has reached the fourth round of the French for the third year in a row but what he will be aiming for is to improve on the two semi-final runs he made over the past two years.

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