Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas turned up the heat at Roland Garros on Saturday, booking their places in the last 16, as 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka showed glimpses of his old form as he marched into the second week.
World No 1 Novak Djokovic also eased into the fourth round to step up his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time. The Serbian saw off unseeded Italian Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round tie with either Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff .
In another match, Argentinian eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro eased past Australian Jordan Thompson with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 victory. The former US Open champion, who has missed much of the season with injuries, is a two-time Roland Garros semi-finalist. Del Potro will take on Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the last eight.
German fifth seed Zverev needed another five-setter to reach the fourth round, defeating Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2.
Zverev, whose best run at a Slam came in Paris last year when he made the quarter-finals, will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini for a place in the last-eight. Zverev, 22, had also needed five sets to defeat Australia’s John Millman in the first round.
On Saturday, he hit 18 aces and 52 winners past 30th seed Lajovic, the runner-up to Fognini on Monte Carlo clay in April. Fognini needed four sets to defeat Spanish 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
The 32-year-old Fognini trails Zverev 2-1 in head-to-head meetings but crucially won their most recent meeting in Monte Carlo.
Crowd favourite Tsitsipas became the first Greek player in 83 years to reach the second week at Roland Garros as he survived a scare against Filip Krajinovic.
The sixth seed led by two sets when the match was suspended at 5-5 in the third due to darkness just before 10:00 pm on Friday. On the resumption Saturday, Tsitsipas lost the set in a tie-break but sealed a 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6) success on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The 20-year-old will take on former champion Wawrinka who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(8) in a titanic tiebreak tussle after their match was also suspended on Friday evening.
“It’s really tricky when you come back after a day. It’s unusual, you don’t do it that often,” said Tsitsipas, who stunned Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year.
“It was important I saved those set points. Closing in the fourth set, it’s important to save energy.”
The last Greek player to reach the second week at Roland Garros was Lazaros Stalios in 1936.
Fabio Fognini (ITA x9) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x18) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Alexander Zverev (GER x5) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB x30) 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x6) bt Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6)
French Open men’s last 16 line-up (x denotes seeded player):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Fabio Fognini (ITA x9) v Alexander Zverev (GER x5)
Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) v Gael Monfils (FRA x14)
Karen Khachanov (RUS x10) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x8)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x6) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI x24)
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) v Roger Federer (SUI x3)
Kei Nishikori (JPN x7) v Benoit Paire (FRA)
Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) v Rafael Nadal (ESP x2)
With AFP inputs