Novak Djokovic reached a record 12th French Open quarter-final on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.
Djokovic, the 2016 champion and 12-time Grand Slam title winner, has now also reached 40 quarter-finals at the majors.
The 31-year-old Serb, seeded at 20 this year after a year of struggles with an elbow injury and mediocre form, will face Italy’s world number 72 Marco Cecchinato for a semi-final spot.
Verdasco, 34, had knocked out fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in the third round.
However, his hopes of beating Djokovic for the first time in eight years weren’t helped by a badly blistered left foot which needed treatment before the end of the second set.
Victory on Sunday was also Djokovic’s 200th on clay courts.
Cecchinato stuns Goffin
Italian world number 72 Marco Cecchinato stunned eighth seed David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday to set up a French Open quarter-final against former champion Novak Djokovic.
Cecchinato, who had never won a Grand Slam match before arriving in Paris, continued his dream run at Roland Garros by seeing off Belgian Goffin.
The 25-year-old, who won his first ATP title as a lucky loser in Budapest earlier this year, will face Djokovic for the first time with a semi-final spot at stake.
Comeback king Zverev
German second seed Alexander Zverev claimed his third successive comeback win at the French Open to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday, edging Russian Karen Khachanov in five sets.
The 21-year-old played some stunning tennis in the closing stages of a dramatic 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 fourth-round victory and will next face Dominic Thiem who reached a third successive quarter-final in Paris by seeing off Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.
World number 38 Khachanov has now lost at the last-16 stage at Roland Garros twice in a row, while Zverev ended his wait for a maiden major last-eight appearance at the 12th attempt.
“Well, I’m young, so I might as well stay on court, get some practice and entertain you guys,” smiled Zverev, who is bidding to become the first German man to win the French Open since 1937.
“Me and my brother are guys that spend three, four hours a day in the gym, lifting heavy weights, on the treadmill. It paid off today.”
A tight first set heated up in the 10th game when Zverev saved two set points, the second after becoming incensed when the umpire overturned a line call of out from a Khachanov shot.
But the Russian sealed the set at the third time of asking, leaving the world number three needing a fightback for the third consecutive match.
There was excitement at the end of the second set too as a marathon game saw Zverev fail to serve it out to level the match, firing long on Khachanov’s fifth break point after wasting three set points.
But the German gathered himself, taking a tie-break as the momentum swung back in his favour.
That proved a false dawn for Zverev, though, as Khachanov eased through the third set with some powerful hitting.
But Zverev, as he did in his wins over Dusan Lajovic and Damir Dzumhur, forced a decider, sealing the set with an ace after saving two break points.
And he secured an impressive victory, finishing the match with 63 winners and 17 aces.
Former champion Novak Djokovic faces Fernando Verdasco later in the day, looking to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon last year.
Thiem dominates Nishikori
Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem reached his third successive French Open quarter-final on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Thiem, the only man to defeat 10-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal on clay this year, will face German second seed Alexander Zverev for a place in the semi-finals.
Sunday’s win for 24-year-old Thiem was his first over Japanese 19th seed Nishikori who had won their previous matches on grass at Halle in 2015 and on clay in Rome in 2016.
Order of play
Court Philippe Chatrier
7-Dominic Thiem beat 19-Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4
20-Novak Djokovic beat 30-Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Court Suzanne Lenglen
Karen Khachanov lost to 2-Alexander Zverev 4-6, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
8-David Goffin lost to Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
Quarter-final line-up (Bottom half)
20-Novak Djokovic vs Marco Cecchinato
7-Dominic Thiem vs 2-Alexander Zverev