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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal reach milestones in French Open wins

Jun 3, 2021; Paris, France; Rafael Nadal (ESP) in action during his match against Richard Gasquet (FRA) on day five of the French Open at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Top seed Novak Djokovic and No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal cruised into the fourth round of the French Open in Paris Saturday, reaching milestones along the way.

Djokovic, a Serbian, defeated Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 32 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros. Nadal needed just over two hours to eliminated Brit Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to advance.

With the victory, Spain’s Nadal became just the third man to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event 50 times, joining Roger Federer (67 times) and Djokovic (54).

A clay-court master, Nadal has ruled Roland Garros, winning a record 13 times. But Djokovic now is through to the final 16 in the men’s draw for a record 12th straight year, breaking the 11-year tie he held with Federer and Nadal, who each reached the milestone from 2005-16.

The 34-year-old Djokovic last won the French Open title in 2016. He advanced Thursday after hitting 30 winners to move to 4-0 against Berankis.

Next up for Djokovic will be Lorenzo Musetti, who topped fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in three hours, nine minutes.

This will be the first meeting between the veteran Djokovic and 19-year-old Musetti.

“We did practice this season on this surface, a couple of times in Monte-Carlo, and other tournaments,” Djokovic said. “I really like how he plays.

“He’s got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand. He can play with a lot of spin. He’s got great feel, comes to the net. He can play short balls, drop shots. He can flatten out his serve. He can open up with a good kick and slice. He’s really got [an] all-around game. He is a big challenge to me.”

With his win, Nadal moved to 103-2 at Roland Garros. Against Norrie, the 35-year-old Nadal tallied 35 winners and 29 unforced errors and broke his opponent’s serve six times.

“Today I had in front [of me] a player [who is] having a great season,” Nadal said of the 25-year-old Norrie. “I’m happy to win in straight sets. I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well. I think [I played] a good first set. Then for moments I need to do things better, but I am confident that I can do it.”

Like Djokovic, Nadal will face a 19-year-old Italian in the next round. He’ll play Jannik Sinner, the No. 18 seed, who defeated Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.

“You can’t expect an easy opponent out there. Jannik is not the best fourth round [opponent]. Without a doubt, he’s a dangerous one,” Nadal said. “He’s young. He’s a great player. We know each other well, so let’s see. I need to be ready to play at a very high level of tennis to have chances to be in the quarter-finals, and I’m going to fight for it.”

Also winning Saturday was No. 10 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, a straight-sets winner over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber. Another German, Jan-Lennard Struff, defeated Carlos Alcaraz Garfia of Spain in three sets.

–Field Level Media