Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz chase places in the round of 16 at Roland-Garros | Tennis News



BETTING: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal aim to take another step towards a blockbuster quarter-final clash at Roland Garros on Friday, while Carlos Alcaraz targets a place in the last 16 after surviving a match point in the previous round .
World No. 1 and defending champion Djokovic is through the first two rounds of his first Grand Slam since losing the US Open final last year. He will then face the Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.
“I’m just happy to play the way I played the first two rounds,” Djokovic said, chasing a record-tying 21st major after his high-profile expulsion ahead of the Australian Open in January.
“Everything is going in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”
The Serb has reached the last eight or better in each of his last 12 visits to Roland Garros, and accounts for two of Nadal’s only three clay-court defeats in Paris.
Nadal continues his push for a 14th French Open crown against Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp, quarter-finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
The Spaniard claimed his 300th Grand Slam victory by defeating French joker Corentin Moutet in straight sets in the second round. He is 107-3 at Roland Garros.
“The preparation wasn’t perfect, so I didn’t expect a perfect start to the tournament. But I did pretty well,” Nadal said.
He started the year on a streak of 20 wins, including his triumph in Melbourne, but is without a clay-court title this season after missing time with a rib injury and then suffering a recurrence of a foot problem.
“I can’t try to go very far in the tournament if I worry every day about my physical problems,” Nadal said.
“So if something happens, it happens and I will accept it, but at the moment I am focused on tennis.”
After saving match point in a thrilling five-set match against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Spain’s teenage star Alcaraz faces the only player to beat him on clay this season, Sebastian Korda.
“I believe in myself and of course I work hard every day,” said the 19-year-old.
“You must have a good goal, good dreams. Of course, try to follow your dream. Work hard every day. I think that’s the secret.
“I’m still young, but I would say quite an experienced player now. I feel comfortable playing in big stadiums, big matches, playing in a Grand Slam. Like I said, physically I’m strong . Mentally, I’m strong, as well.”
Third-seeded and 2021 semi-finalist Alexander Zverev was also watching the second-round loss to Sebastian Baez, saving a match point on serve at 4-5 after hitting back after two sets.
The German Olympic champion meets Brandon Nakashima of the United States who is having his best Grand Slam run on his main draw debut at Roland Garros.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who took out US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Karolina Muchova, the conqueror of Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari, faces another former Parisian semi-finalist in Amanda Anisimova, the American 27th seed.
Swiss Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic takes on last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez, while 18-year-old Coco Gauff meets Kaia Kanepi, who turns 37 next month and is the wife the oldest in the tournament.


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