Novak Djokovic beats Diego Schwartzman to set up potential showdown with Nadal at Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-2 to advance to the French Open quarter-finals.
The defending champion will face 13-time Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal or Félix Auger-Aliassime in the last eight.
Djokovic eased the first set and looked set for a comfortable afternoon, but Schwartzman looked to be in control of the second set after opening up a three-game advantage. However, the world No. 1 clinched the next six games in a row to give himself a two-set advantage.
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Schwartzman held on in the second game of the third set to stem the tide, but Djokovic had too much for the Argentine, claiming two more breaks to seal his place in the next round.
A strong start from Djokovic sent a message as he held serve after opening with an ace and smart play at net, but Schwartzman showed some resilience early on, landing a solid hold from the devil.
The Argentine then scored two break points with good cushioning but Djokovic survived the scare and smashed another ace to keep his nose in front.
Schwartzman made a few mistakes and failed to recover as Djokovic claimed his first break after a damaging bunt and the Serb quickly made it 4-1 even after a double fault.
Schwartzman appeared to lose his temper after committing no less than three double faults as Djokovic earned his double break to take full control of the first set, closing it in 35 minutes with a hold to love.
The crowd was entirely behind Schwartzman as he converted a second break point to take the lead in the second set.
Mistakes were becoming more frequent for Djokovic, who was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers as he entered the pitch and he found himself trailing 3-0 as Schwartzman confidently held on to 15 to save the pause.
The top seed quickly regrouped to cross a dominant hold and eventually get on the board, and the Serb raised his level, earning a break with a huge forehand winner.
Djokovic had been emotionless until then, but after saving two break points he turned to face the crowd in wild celebration.
Now back in his stride, the world No. 1 has fired all the guns blazing, scoring game after game, smashing his opponent twice on his way to six straight wins to comfortably see the set.
Six quickly became seven despite a superb comeback from Schwartzman who made it two, but the Argentine eventually came back on the board to hold only to then send a tame backhand into the net as Djokovic kept it at bay.
Schwartzman was one point away from a break, but the Serb slammed the door to deny him the lift he needed, and his pain was compounded as Djokovic took another break.
Djokovic showcased his all-court game with a series of delicious groundstrokes before sealing a convincing hold with a crippling volley on the slide to make it 5-2.
He was forced to wait out the match thanks to late resistance from Schwartzman, but Djokovic sealed it in style, clinically holding on to love to win the contest in two hours and 15 minutes.
Speaking to Eurosport in his post-match interview, Djokovic paid tribute to his opponent – and warned his rivals there was still more to come from him after another impressive display.
“I have a lot of respect for [Diego]”, said the Serb. “I think he’s a great person, on and off the pitch. He is a specialist in this surface, and it was not easy today.
“I congratulate [Diego] for a big tournament; the [were] lots of good times for him [over this last week] and I wish him good luck for the rest of the season.
“Conditions were a bit different from Thursday; there was a bit more bounce off the field. I think I did well; I found my service at the right times and I’m happy.
“Yes, [I’m on the right track] I completely agree! I have not finished yet [though].”
Thierry Henry spotted on the pitch during Djokovic’s match against Schwartzman at Roland-Garros
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