Results of the 2023 French Open: Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz advance to the finals at Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic overcame Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas to reach a record 17th French Open men’s quarter-final.
The Serbian third seed, 36, triumphed 6-3 6-2 6-2 on the Roland Garros clay to move ahead of Rafael Nadal in the last-eight standings.
Djokovic is also trying to surpass Nadal’s record of 23 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.
Top seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced as well, defeating Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti.
Djokovic’s primary contender for the title in the absence of injured 14-time winner Nadal, Spain’s Alcaraz, won 6-3 6-2 6-2 against the 17th seed later on Sunday.
Djokovic and Alcaraz are expected to meet in the semi-finals.
Djokovic said of taking sole possession of the quarter-final record, “I’m proud of it, but my attention is already on the next match.”
“I know what I want to achieve here. I’m trying to stay mentally on track while also not looking too far ahead.”
Djokovic, a two-time champion (in 2016 and 2021), will face Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov next.
Khachanov, 27, advanced to his third Grand Slam quarterfinal in a row with a 1-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 triumph over unseeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
The winner of the match between Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner will face world number one Alcaraz, 20.
After being injured for the Australian Open, which Djokovic won in January, the US Open champion has won his last 11 Grand Slam matches.
Alcaraz has been formidable on the clay since recovering from his abdominal injury.
Musetti, who had knocked out British number one Cameron Norrie in the previous round, was his 24th win in 26 matches on the surface this season.
“I try not to think about the pressure of being world number one,” stated Alcaraz.
“I try to enjoy my tennis and make people enjoy watching tennis.” During the game, this is all I can think about.”
Djokovic had a non-eventful afternoon.
At a Grand Slam, Djokovic is surrounded by drama, and after risking inflaming political tensions in the Balkans by writing a motto about Kosovo at the opening of Roland Garros, he stated that controversy gives him an extra push.
A rough third-round battle against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina was also a talking point, prompting Djokovic to claim afterwards that he did not have time to name his “long list” of injuries.
But because overcoming Varillas was so uncomplicated, the Serb had a drama-free afternoon.
After cruising to a 4-0 lead, Djokovic continued to struggle with his ball toss in the windy conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier, and he had to save another break opportunity before holding for 5-2.
The only true amount of theater occurred throughout that game.
The French fans booed Djokovic for a seemingly trivial expression of irritation after a Varillas winner for 30-40, feeding on the energy to deny the Peruvian and then, with a smirk on his face, cupping his ear with his palm at the audience.
Varillas, ranked 94th in the world, nearly retired from the sport in 2016 to return to university full-time, and his decision not to retire has paid off with his finest major race.
He was the first Peruvian male to reach the Roland Garros last 16 since Jaime Yzaga in 1994, however he fell short of his compatriot’s feat of reaching a Grand Slam quarter-final.
Djokovic had only lost once on the Paris clay to a player rated outside the top 50, in the 2018 quarter-finals to Italy’s Marco Cecchinato.
He was never going to be surprised again after going a break up early in the second set and comfortably sealed up victory to reach his 14th successive quarter-final at Roland Garros.