The world No 1 beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3 6-3 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier to edge closer to a potential quarter-final meeting with Rafael Nadal; Nadal overcame Botic van de Zandschulp in his third-round match.Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both breezed into the fourth round of the French Open courtesy of straight-sets victories on Friday afternoon at Roland Garros.
The world No 1 raced to a 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over Aljaz Bedene on Court Philippe-Chatrier and shortly after, Nadal finished the job against Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Both men have fourth-round matches to play, but if they are victorious, they will meet each other in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic is set to face Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round and Nadal will take on Felix Auger-Aliassime.
On Court Philippe-Chatrier, Djokovic got into his groove early and never let up.His opponent Bedene, ranked 195th in the world after an eight-month layoff and a return to action in March, was no match for the world No 1’s power and near-flawless service games.The Serb missed three break points at 2-1 in the first set, but quickly got another chance to breeze through it in just over 30 minutes.Djokovic gained two further breaks in the second set to clinch it as quickly as the first, with Bedene failing to create a single break chance throughout the match.
Bedene won just five points on Djokovic’s serve during the first two sets.
The third set went in similar fashion with Djokovic breaking early and Bedene, who made twice as many unforced errors as his opponent, failing to respond.
“It’s not possible to play perfectly but to strive to play close to perfection,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview.
“I want to play my characteristic game, my aggressive game. It is not always possible but today it was very good.”
The 35-year-old world No 1 is now on an eight-match winning run following his title in Rome and has never lost to his fourth-round opponent Schwartzman on Tour.
The 13-time French Open champion put on an impressive display of his own for the crowd on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Nadal played with his trademark intensity and produced two near-perfect sets of tennis to press 6-3 6-2 up. He hit just two unforced errors in the opening set and only three in the second set.
Van De Zandschulp gained confidence as the third set continued, but Nadal used his experience to settle proceedings and get over the line before his opponent could make further significant inroads.
“I had my chance with a break point for 5-0 in the third but then he made a great second serve, an ace wide,” Nadal said after. “I played a bad game with my serve after and he played very aggressive tennis.
“You always feel the nerves to finish the match [off], so I’m happy to be through I straight-sets. I think it was my best match of the tournament for two-and-a-half sets. So, I’m very happy for that.”
Norrie’s next opponent – Auger-Aliassime – is currently coached by his uncle, Toni. The 13-time French Open champion quickly addressed the situation and made his feelings clear.
“I already talked with Toni after my match,” he said. “I know you are going to ask the question, but for me it’s very simple.
“He’s my uncle. I don’t think he will be able to want me to lose, without a doubt, but he’s a professional and he’s with another player.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, if he’s going to stay in the box or not, but I don’t care. I have zero problem with that. So it’s not a story at all for me. I know the feelings that we have between each other.
“I know he wants the best for me. Now he’s helping another player. But honestly, for me, it’s zero problem and I know he wants the best for me.”
Canadian Auger-Aliassime expects his coach to step aside for this particular encounter.
“It was black and white from the first time we started working together we knew it was a possibility that eventually I would play Rafa when I’m working with Toni,” he said.
“But I think Toni will watch from a neutral place and enjoy the match.”
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