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Djokovic edges closer to Grand Slam record with spot in last eight

By Karolos Grohmann

PARIS – World number three Novak Djokovic inched closer to a 23rd Grand Slam title by crushing Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Sunday to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

The Serbian, who is tied with Spain’s Rafa Nadal on a men’s record 22 majors, was untroubled by his 94th-ranked opponent, the first Peruvian in 29 years to reach a Grand Slam fourth round, on a windy day on Philippe Chatrier court.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his fourth round match against Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

A two-time champion in Paris, Djokovic has now reached the quarter-finals at the French Open for a record 17th time, one more than 14-time champion Rafa Nadal who is absent this year due to injury.

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“I am proud of all the records but it also means I am not young any more,” said the 36-year-old.”It was the best level of tennis I have played here so I am very satisfied.”

“I put in a lot of effort like all the players and the situation today is not the same like, say, 10 years ago. When I play like today I am satisfied and motivated to continue.”

EDN 5 June 2023

Djokovic, who next faces 11th seed Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals, attacked Varillas at every opportunity to avoid being drawn into lengthy baseline battles that had seen the 27-year-old win all his three previous rounds in five-set marathons.

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He played the angles from the start, moving Varillas around and the tactic instantly paid off with two quick breaks in succession for a 4-0 lead.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic shakes hands with Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas after winning his fourth round match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Varillas had come back from two sets down in two of his three previous matches but could not get back into this game as his opponent clinched the first set.

It was a similar story in the next two with Varillas playing catch-up from the start and Djokovic firing winners at will before an easy volley on his first match point saw him seal his record last-eight spot. (Reuters)

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