Djokovic sails into last eight, Nishikori to face Nadal

Djokovic became the first man to reach the French Open quarterfinals for 10 successive seasons. (AFP)
Updated 04 June 2019

Djokovic sails into last eight, Nishikori to face Nadal

  • Top seed and world No. 1 Djokovic continued his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time

PARIS: Novak Djokovic on Monday became the first man to reach the French Open quarterfinals for 10 successive seasons while Kei Nishikori set up the toughest challenge on a clay court — facing Rafael Nadal.

Top seed and world No. 1 Djokovic continued his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time by thrashing Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

The 32-year-old will now face German fifth seed Alexander Zverev, who outlasted ninth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), in what will be his 13th appearance overall in the quarterfinals in Paris.

“It was tricky with the rain, but that’s Paris,” said the 2016 champion after playing in drizzly conditions.

“I’m really confident with my serve. I hope it continues like that.”

Only Australian great Rod Laver has held all four majors at the same time twice before, after his calendar Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969.

Japanese seventh seed Nishikori came back from 1-4 and 3-5 down in the final set to beat Benoit Paire of France and set up a Roland Garros quarterfinal clash against Nadal.

Nishikori won 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 7-5 in a shade under four hours to reach his third last-eight match at the French Open.

“He almost had it today,” said Nishikori who had led two sets to one when the last-16 tie was suspended on Sunday.

“He served for the match at 5-3 but I just tried to fight and play one point at a time.”

The 29-year-old Japanese could have wrapped it up in the fourth set when he had two match points but squandered both, the second on a double fault.

Paire, the world No. 38 who was trying to make the quarter-final of a Slam for the first time, was eventually undone by 15 double faults and 79 unforced errors.

Nishikori has only defeated 11-time French Open champion Nadal twice in 12 meetings with both of those wins coming on hard court.

The Spaniard, celebrating his 33rd birthday on Monday, has won all four of their meetings on clay.

“It’s going to be a tough match, he’s the greatest ever clay court player,” said Nishikori.

In the women’s event, the players who stunned top seed Naomi Osaka and 23-time major winner Serena Williams got a taste of their own medicine.

American 14th seed Madison Keys reached the quarterfinals for the second successive year with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Katerina Siniakova, the conqueror of US and Australian Open winner Osaka.

Keys, who went on to reach the semifinals in 2018, next faces Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty.

Barty beat Sofia Kenin, who stunned Williams in the third round, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“It’s my first time this week playing on this beautiful court and I just wanted to come out here and enjoy it,” said the 23-year-old former cricketer.

“It (playing cricket) was incredible, it made me more hungry to come back and have success in tennis.”


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.