Rafael Nadal set up the blockbuster quarter-final against Novak Djokovic that the French Open has been waiting for, but he was pushed all the way by Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The 13-time champion emerged as a winner by a 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 scoreline in four hours and 21 minutes of dramatic duelling on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Those inside the stadium court roared with the fervour of football supporters as Nadal crossed the winning line, a day after watching his beloved Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the Champions League final at the Stade de France.

If defending champion Djokovic watched this, he would have observed chinks in the Nadal armour, but the great Spaniard's commitment to his craft remains resolute. He hates losing, could not abide the thought of tumbling out in the fourth round, and duly pulled out every stop to avoid that happening.

Looking ahead to the tussle with Djokovic, Nadal said afterwards: "I don't know what will happen, but the only thing I can guarantee is I am going to fight until the end."

Nadal dropped serve in the fourth game of the match and again in the sixth to trail 5-1, and he began the recovery from there, snatching a break back.

Although he had been unable to retrieve the opening set, Nadal was suddenly dialled in. At 35, coming up for 36 in the coming week, he is 14 years Auger-Aliassime's senior and has a dodgy foot, but Nadal's movement was somehow still that of a young man.

From 3-3 in the second set, Nadal won six of the next seven games to take command, soon snatching a second break in set three as he accelerated away from a player who until this year had never won a match at Roland Garros.

Making it to the fourth round signifies progress on Auger-Aliassime's part but facing the master of these courts was always a tall order. It was to the ninth seed's enormous credit that he gave the match a fresh twist by breaking twice early in the fourth set and forcing the decider.

At 4-3 in the fifth, on serve, Nadal had a break-point opportunity and his tiring legs carried him to stunning heights when he moved Auger-Aliassime into trouble at the net with a delicious, dipping backhand, and then dashed towards the net to dink a winner out of his opponent's reach.

This time Auger-Aliassime did not come back. On match point in the next game, Nadal sent a forehand into an open court after manoeuvring Auger-Aliassime out of position once more, and it brought the house down. He now has 109 wins from 112 singles matches at this tournament.

Data slam: Nadal goes the distance, finds a way

Only three times has Nadal played a fifth set at the French Open, and he has won them all, defeating John Isner in the 2011 first round and Djokovic in the 2013 semi-finals, and now Auger-Aliassime.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 47/41
Auger-Aliassime – 50/54

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 3/4
Auger-Aliassime – 7/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/22
Auger-Aliassime – 4/9

French Open quarter-finalist Coco Gauff feels as though she is improving with every match played as she eyes a shot at grand slam glory.

World number 23 Gauff burst onto the scene in 2019 with a run to the Wimbledon round of 16, but it took until last year's French Open for the teenage sensation to make her first grand slam quarter-final.

Gauff lost to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova on that occasion, but she has repeated the feat this time, reaching the last eight after defeating Elise Mertens 6-4 6-0 on Sunday.

That makes the 18-year-old the seventh American female to reach two or more quarter-finals at Roland Garros before turning 19 in the Open Era, after Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Kathy Horvath, Mary Joe Fernandez, Monica Seles, and Jennifer Capriati. 

A last-eight tie with compatriot Sloane Stephens awaits for Gauff, whose sole title in 2021 came in Parma on clay.

Gauff feels she is getting better match by match, telling a news conference: "I really enjoy clay and the crowd. I feel like every match I'm getting better.

"I think today even though I had some tough moments I was able to tough it out. I really do feel like I'm progressing with each match.

"I definitely feel confident on the court. I feel like [clay] really suits my game. The previous tournaments this clay season, I had some good wins but it wasn't really any outstanding results.

"I feel like it gave me a lot to learn from, and I think I'm taking those tough matches that I lost this season and really learning from them and I guess showing that I'm doing better."

Gauff was then asked to grade herself and how she thinks she can get to "the top of the class".

She explained: "You're never going to play your best tennis in a slam every moment of the match, but I think I'm getting better and better, and I think mentally I can't ask for much more from myself in each match.

"I mean today in the first set I had a lot of points that I probably should have closed out and made some errors on balls that I probably shouldn't have. I just stayed in it.

"I didn't not trust myself because I started to make those shots in the second set.

"To make it to the top of the class, I think just keep doing what I'm doing and not freaking out in those moments. I didn't freak out when a couple of those important points didn't go my way."

Leylah Fernandez is thriving again thanks to her "underdog" spirit as last year's US Open runner-up mounts a Roland Garros challenge.

The Canadian produced an against-the-odds run in New York, before losing out to fellow shock finalist Emma Raducanu, and it might just be happening again at the French Open for the 19-year-old.

A fluent French speaker, she has the home crowd behind her and was a popular 6-3 4-6 6-3 winner against American Amanda Anisimova on Sunday, reaching the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time.

Fernandez has an Ecuadorian-born father, Jorge, who serves as her coach, and the teenager said she hoped a little "Latino fire" could propel her deeper into the tournament.

"Every time I step out on the court I still have something to prove," said Fernandez. "I still have that mindset I'm the underdog.

"I'm still young, I still have a lot to show to the people, to the public so that they can just enjoy the tennis match. That's ultimately my goal, and that's why I want to do well in matches."

Fernandez, a big football fan, was delighted to show Thierry Henry exactly what she can do as the former Arsenal, Barcelona and France striker watched on from the stands.

"To see him do a standing ovation for our match is just an incredible feeling and hopefully I can reproduce that level again," Fernandez said.

"I just love that players are bringing their own personality and their own culture on court."

Referring to her next opponent, Martina Trevisan, Fernandez said: "She's Italian, so they are very passionate about their sports.

"I think it just brings another good entertainment for the fans. That's what I try to do sometimes too, to bring my dad's Latino culture on court too, bring that fire."

Trevisan, who toppled Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the fourth round, has become just the third Italian women to reach two or more singles quarter-finals at Roland Garros in the Open Era, after Sara Errani (four) and 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone (three).

World number 18 Fernandez is the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of the draw, but she is cautious about acknowledging the opportunity opening up for her.

"Honestly, there is no opening," she said. "All the players that are still present at this stage of the tournament are excellent players.

"They work very hard. They have this winning mentality. So there is absolutely no opening. It will be a difficult match. Each match will be difficult."

Novak Djokovic says previous failures at the French Open add "more significance" to his quest for Roland Garros glory.

Djokovic has not dropped a set in each of his last nine matches, dating back to his Internazionali d'Italia win, after cruising to a 6-1 6-3 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman on Sunday.

The world number one has reached a record 16 quarter-finals at the Paris major, while only Roger Federer (58) has reached the last eight at grand slams more times than Djokovic (51).

But Djokovic has not always enjoyed success in the French capital, losing three finals against Rafael Nadal (twice in 2012 and 2014) and Stan Wawrinka in 2015 before defeating Andy Murray the next year.

The Serbian added a second French Open crown to his trophy haul in 2021 by edging out Stefanos Tsitsipas.

As Djokovic looks to defend his title, the 35-year-old explained he has an added incentive given his previous struggles in the tournament.

"It took me years and years to win the title here," he told reporters. "Of course I had some big heartbreaks on the court here, many finals lost and semi-finals, thrilling marathon matches, mostly against Rafa prior to 2016.

"It was very special, very emotional to clinch that title in 2016. It was a huge relief more than anything.

"So in the years to come, I was still continuing to play consistently well here then luckily got another title last year, somehow winning a title here is always probably the hardest of any slam for me.

"Last year the second week that I had here was just probably the toughest four matches, toughest seven days I had to win any slam in my career. So it gives it a little bit more of a significance, so to say."

Djokovic also suggested he is having to make adjustments based on the scheduling times, with top seeds either playing in the early afternoon or in the evening session, which can go later into the night.

"As top players, we do have requests, but those requests are not always accepted," he added. "The tournament director, along with TV, broadcasters, I think at the end of the day that's who decides.

"TV, whether they want your match, day or night, you just have to adjust to that. Obviously, depending on who you play, sometimes it's favourable to play night, sometimes day.

"There is no standard or no formula that works always. Even though I historically played very well and won a lot of matches under the lights on different slams, particularly in Australia."

Rafael Nadal lost a first set at Roland Garros for the first time since 2018 as he went behind to Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Canadian Auger-Aliassime took the opening set of the pair's fourth-round match at the French Open 6-3.

It put Nadal, a 13-time champion at Roland Garros, on the back foot as he hunted a win that will tee up a quarter-final tie against Novak Djokovic, who defeated Diego Schwartzman earlier on Sunday.

And, according to ATP Media, it was the first time Nadal has lost an opening set at the French Open in four years, when he went behind to Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.

Nadal came back to win that match 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 en route to clinching his 11th Roland Garros success, and the second of four on the bounce.

Like in 2018, Nadal hit back to win the second set 6-3 against Auger-Aliassime, hauling himself level after a disappointing start.

Novak Djokovic is on course to face Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-final after defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-3.

Djokovic had not dropped a set in his last eight matches, dating back to his Internazionali d'Italia win, and had little trouble extending that run in the fourth round on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

World number 16 Schwartzman offered brief resistance to hold in a lengthy opening service game, but the Serbian managed to break his opponent on his next serve before going on to claim the first set with ease.

Defending Roland Garros champion Djokovic capitalised on an error-strewn Schwartzman performance in the first set, but it was the 35-year-old who faltered in the second as he went 3-0 down.

Djokovic made numerous mistakes at the net with his wayward backhand costing him, but he responded in emphatic fashion, rallying to win the next six games, and Schwartzman failed to recover.

World number one Djokovic broke to make it 4-2 in the final set, with Schwartzman left lamenting a break point squandered in the previous game.

Djokovic eased over the line to book his place in the last eight, where Nadal will be his opponent if the Spaniard defeats Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Data Slam: Djokovic reaches 16th quarter-final

Djokovic eased into a record-extending 16th French Open quarter-final, while Nadal could match that feat later on Sunday. In the overall grand slam quarter-final count, Roger Federer leads with 58, with Djokovic on 51 and Nadal on 45.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 28/31
Schwartzman – 23/45

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 3/1
Schwartzman – 1/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/11
Schwartzman – 1/8

Iga Swiatek is the last top-10 seed remaining in the women's draw at the French Open after Camila Giorgi knocked out Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday.

Giorgi moved into the fourth round with a 4-6 6-1 6-0 defeat of the seventh seed on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Italian Giorgi broke the two-time grand slam semi-finalist from Belarus' serve six times as she booked a meeting with Daria Kasatkina, progressing beyond the third round for the first time at Roland Garros.

Veronika Kudermetova earlier reached the last 16 of a major for the first time when Paula Badosa retired from their third-round match due to a right calf injury at 6-3 2-1 down.

With third seed Padosa and Sabalenka making an exit, world number one Swiatek is an even stronger favourite to win the title for the second time.

The top seed saw off Danka Kovinic 6-3 7-5 in the opening match of the day on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

It is only the second time this century that only one of the top-10 seeds has reached the fourth round, with the other occasion being when Karolina Pliskova was the last such player left standing at Wimbledon four years ago.

Czech Pliskova failed to capitalise at the All England Club, as she was knocked out in the fourth round.

Daniil Medvedev is on a mission to avoid being remembered as a two-week wonder at world number one as he attempts to claw top spot back from Novak Djokovic.

The US Open champion climbed to the summit of the ATP rankings in late February of this year and had a fortnight there before surrendering the top rung to Djokovic, the long-time incumbent.

Djokovic remains there and has spent a record 371 weeks at number one across his career, while Roger Federer had 310 weeks on top and Rafael Nadal 209 weeks.

Their dominance has been at the extreme end of the sporting spectrum, and Medvedev will probably never get close to matching any of their totals, but there is a strong chance he will jump back to number one sooner rather than later.

Medvedev revealed on Saturday he had searched on the internet to learn which players had short runs at number one comparable to his own, such is his fascination.

He is closely tracking Djokovic in the current world rankings, and should he reach the French Open final next weekend he will overtake the 35-year-old Serbian – even if Djokovic successfully defends his Roland Garros title.

Then the decision by the ATP to strip Wimbledon of ranking points means Djokovic will lose 2,000 points after that tournament, having been champion last year, while Medvedev has only a handful to hand back. He is banned from Wimbledon, as all Russians are, and is unhappy to be missing out, but he stands to benefit on the rankings list.

"I for sure want to be there more than two weeks. I want to try to do it," Medvedev said. "We don't know how, this Wimbledon thing, but I want to try to make the best results possible."

Medvedev recalled being told by Tennis Channel how he could return to number one in Paris, saying that was "great to know".

"That's great motivation," Medvedev said. "It's not something that pressures me, because I'm really happy I managed to do it.

"I remember at Indian Wells I lost, I didn't like my match against Gael [Monfils], and that's when I knew I was going to lose the number one spot.

"I was like, well, just two weeks. I went on the internet and looked just like this on Google, who were the shortest number one players in the world, and the first I saw was Pat Rafter being there for one week, and he's an absolute legend, and Carlos Moya was somewhere there. Two weeks.

"If somebody would ask me, how long were Rafter and Moya number one, I'd say, I don't know, six months, one year."

After a 6-2 6-4 6-2 win over Djokovic's compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic, which set up a last-16 clash with Maric Cilic, the 26-year-old Medvedev spoke of his pride at having briefly lorded it over his tour rivals.

"It's something nobody can take away from me," he said. "Not that many players could take it while they play tennis. It's a great motivation to try to come back there."

Iga Swiatek insists she is unbothered by the focus on her remarkable winning streak as she continues to play with "nothing to lose" at the French Open.

World number one Swiatek progressed into the fourth round at Roland Garros with a 6-3 7-5 win over Danka Kovinic on Saturday.

The 20-year-old has won her last 31 matches, just one short of the tally achieved by former world number one Justine Henin in 2008.

Swiatek would match the longest winning streak of this century, set by Venus Williams in 2000 (35), should she go on to lift the trophy in Paris.

But the Pole says is focusing on playing with freedom as opposed to getting caught up in the furore surrounding her winning run.

"For sure nothing to lose. It's been always like that. I feel like every person plays better when they feel like they have nothing to lose," Swiatek told reporters.

"I mean, from my point of view, I don't really mind the streak. I'm just playing my tennis. I've gained so many points this season already that I try to look at it from that perspective that I actually have nothing to lose here.

"I just try to focus on the stuff that actually is going on. Thinking about all these stats, it's not really helpful.

"So basically I try to be really strict in terms of my thoughts and try to really focus on finding solutions.

"The thoughts are there, but I'm accepting that, and it's kind of the biggest part of the job is to manage them properly and to really shift the focus on the right things."

Swiatek won her first and only grand slam at Roland Garros in 2020, and has now won 17 of the 19 matches she has played at the French Open.

That feat ranks her just behind Margaret Court, Chris Evert and Monica Seles for the number of wins from their first 19 matches at Roland Garros in the Open Era.

Overcoming China's Zheng Qinwen is the next task for Swiatek, who expects a tough test against the world number 74.

"I'm not really familiar, honestly. Because I didn't watch a lot of tennis during the past couple of months, but I have heard some other players talking about her," she added. 

"I'm sure that she's in the right place for her to be, because she's playing really well. Even when she lost some matches, people were really telling me that she has talent.

"But I didn't really watch a lot, so I'm not like tactically ready. For now I'm going to prepare, for sure."

Carlos Alcaraz put on a mesmerising show for the late-night Court Philippe-Chatrier crowd as the teenage sensation of men's tennis raced into the French Open fourth round.

In a performance described by former British number one Tim Henman as "an absolute clinic", Alcaraz swept to a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win against American Sebastian Korda.

Korda, 21, is widely expected to be a star of the men's tour for years to come, and he beat Alcaraz on clay in Monte Carlo only last month.

This time he found 19-year-old Spaniard Alcaraz too hot to handle on the surface, with the fast-rising world number six demonstrating the form that has brought him a tour-leading four titles in 2022 already.

Tournament organisers were giving the Paris crowds a glimpse into the future by handing Korda and Alcaraz the hot-ticket night session slot. They are both becoming increasingly a factor in the present, too, and Alcaraz is rated a strong contender for the title this fortnight.

Victory made him the youngest man to reach round four at the French Open since Novak Djokovic in 2006, the ATP said. After winning titles in Barcelona and Madrid, Alcaraz is on a 13-match winning run.

It took him two hours and six minutes to get the job done this time, flashing 18 passing shot winners past his opponent, the son of one-time Roland Garros runner-up Petr Korda.

"It's amazing to play in front of such a great crowd, a great atmosphere here in Philippe-Chatrier," Alcaraz said. "I think the night session is fun to play, the whole people enjoyed the match, and I'm grateful to play in front of such a good crowd.

"Of course, in early matches I'm trying to have fun out there. I love playing this kind of tennis court. I love playing in France. I'm enjoying every single second."

Baseliner Alcaraz surprised many by bringing out a rush of serve-volley points, and revealed that was at the behest of coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

He also revealed how Ferrero, who was briefly a world number one and won the 2003 French Open men's title, remained in great nick on the practice courts at the age of 42.

"I think not too far away, a couple of months ago or a year ago, he beat me in a training set," Alcaraz said. "He's in good shape, and he could beat a lot of players now in a training set."

Henman, analysing the match for Eurosport, said Alcaraz was the complete package. It was a performance that suggested Alcaraz's five-set struggle against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in round two was a blip.

"I thought his performance was absolutely incredible," former world number four Henman said. "Korda perhaps didn't play as well as he would have liked, but he wasn't allowed to play because of the sheer quality of Alcaraz in every area.

"All credit to Alcaraz, it was an absolute clinic out there."

Henman said the youngster turned "defence into attack in the blink of an eye", adding: "I think he came in expecting a really difficult match, and he destroyed Korda."

Alcaraz reached round three on his Roland Garros debut last year, and has now gone a step further, with Russian Karen Khachanov awaiting him next.

Swedish great Mats Wilander, who won the French Open three times in the 1980s, said Alcaraz on the backhand was "very much like Novak Djokovic".

"The forehand side I'm not really sure, I can't explain it," said Wilander, "because the speed of his arm and when he decides to go full... when he goes full it is unbelievable when the ball hits the clay and bounces."

Toni Nadal's loyalties will be split between nephew Rafael and current charge Felix Auger-Aliassime after the French Open served up a delicious last-16 clash.

Known popularly on the tour as Uncle Toni, the man who was at superstar Nadal's side for so many of his greatest triumphs signed up to coach Canadian Auger-Aliassime last year.

Nadal and 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime have had just one past competitive meeting, three years ago on clay in Madrid, but they will go head to head in Paris in the fourth round, and the prospect could hardly be more appetising.

According to Rafael Nadal, who says he has "zero problem" with the scenario, Uncle Toni "wants the best for me".

But Toni Nadal has been hired by Auger-Aliassime, so in theory, he should want the best for the man who grew up in Quebec, too.

Auger-Aliassime earned a hard-fought 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win over Serbian Filip Krajinovic on Friday, while Nadal fended off Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp for the loss of only nine games.

There is seemingly no prospect of the Nadals staying away from one another ahead of the tussle.

"I already talked with Toni after my match," said Rafael Nadal after sinking the hopes of Van de Zandschulp.

"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 gonna happen, if he's gonna 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 what the feelings are that we have between each other. I know he wants the best for me."

Nadal said he had no issue with Uncle Toni working for another player, adding: "He's old enough to make his own decisions, no?

"I can't thank him enough for all the things that he did for me during so many years. I don't have any problem with any position that he's making. I want the best for him, and he wants the best for me. We are family more than anything else.

"Not only family; we are a family that stay together all the time. We are in the same village. We spend time in the academy together. We lived incredible emotions together. So he's not only an uncle. He's more than that."

All of which may have made for interesting listening for Auger-Aliassime, who has joined Nadal in the world's top 10 since their meeting three years ago, with the Canadian at a career-high ninth in the rankings.

Auger-Aliassime's clay-court form has been patchy this season, and it would be a major surprise if he took the scalp of the 13-time French Open champion, who is defying ongoing foot pain to keep his career going.

Toni Nadal joined Frederic Fontang in Auger-Aliassime's coaching set-up, and it may be the latter who does much of the tactical planning for the next match.

"I don't know if I need insight on how Rafa plays, to be honest," said Auger-Aliassime. "I think we all know what he does well.

"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. And actually now he's present here in this grand slam. But I think Toni will watch from a neutral place and enjoy the match.

"From my part it's another match, another opportunity to try to play a good match and win, but of course it's very difficult. I don't know how Toni feels. Maybe we should ask him, but he hasn't talked to me about it."

Auger-Aliassime called for observers to consider the "bigger picture", and what Toni and his nephew, the record-holding 21-time men's grand slam winner, achieved together.

"It's one match, let's play, but his career and everything is much bigger than this," said the Canadian.

Rafael Nadal intends to attend the Champions League final between his beloved Real Madrid and Liverpool, despite the ongoing French Open.

Paris' Stade de France plays host to the Champions League showpiece on Saturday, with Madrid aiming for a 14th European Cup as Liverpool look to add to their EFL Cup and FA Cup successes this season.

Meanwhile, across the city in the French capital, Nadal remains in contention at Roland Garros after defeating Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Friday.

Madrid great Zinedine Zidane was in attendance as the Spaniard cruised to victory, with the 35-year-old setting up a last-16 clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

While Nadal did not get to converse with Zidane, he was aware of the Frenchman's presence as the record 21-time grand slam winner outlined his plans to make the short trip to support Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid.

"I didn't see him, but I knew it was him, I knew he was there because I was listening to the crowd shouting his name all the time," Nadal told reporters when asked about Zidane. 

"So I imagine he was there, but I didn't have the chance to see him after my match or talk with him at all.

"Tomorrow, let's see how I wake up, because, you never know with my body how the surprises are there.

"But if nothing happens, and I expect nothing happens, and if I'm able to have the right practice tomorrow, my intention and my goal is to be there [at the Stade de France]."

Novak Djokovic hopes to have his visa reinstated so he can return to feature at the Australian Open following a change of government Down Under.

Djokovic eased to a 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over Aljaz Bedene at the French Open on Friday to set up a last-16 clash with Diego Schwartzman.

The world number one remains on course to meet record 21-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, in what is the Serbian's first major of the year.

Djokovic was banned from playing at the Australian Open in Melbourne and was deported from the country due to his unvaccinated COVID-19 status in January.

The 34-year-old cannot be granted another visa for three years due to Australia's immigration laws, but former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously suggested he could be allowed entry sooner under the "right circumstances".

Djokovic hopes the arrival of new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will boost his visa-related hopes of featuring in Melbourne at the start of 2023.

"In terms of the government, yes, I heard the news, but, I mean, I don't know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I'm going to be allowed to come back to Australia," he told reporters.

"I would like to. I would like to go there and play Australian Open. I don't hold any grudges. Look, you know, it was what it was.

"If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career in Grand Slams, I would love to come back."

As for the next clash with Schwartzman as Djokovic aims to equal Nadal's 21 grand slams, the Serbian is expecting a tough test in Paris.

"Well, he's one of the quickest players we have on tour, and his best results in his career came on clay, so of course he's a tough opponent without a doubt," he added. 

"I know him well. We played some really good matches on different surfaces. So playing against him, you always have to expect another ball coming back. I'm ready for the physical battle.

"I haven't spent too much time on the court. I have been striking the ball really well, so I look forward to that challenge."

Angelique Kerber crashed out at the third round of the French Open as Aliaksandra Sasnovich claimed another scalp on Friday.

Three-time grand slam winner Kerber headed to Paris as the 21st seed but in good form after victory at the Internationaux de Strasbourg last week.

Kerber, whose last major title came at Wimbledon in 2018, made it seven straight clay-court wins for the first time in her professional career after defeating Elsa Jacquemot on Wednesday at Roland Garros.

However, Sasnovich – who defeated US Open winner Emma Raducanu in the previous round – proved a step too far for 21st seed Kerber, who fell to a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) loss on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

World number 47 Sasnovich next faces Italy's Martina Trevisan, whose best result at a grand slam was the quarter-finals at this competition two years ago.

Trevisan became the first Italian female player to win eight or more matches in a row since Francesca Schiavone in 2017 by defeating Daria Saville 6-3 6-4 in the third round.

Meanwhile, American teenager Coco Gauff negotiated past Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-4 to tee up a fourth-round clash with 31st seed Elise Mertens, who was a 6-2 6-3 winner over Varvara Gracheva.

Novak Djokovic cruised to a straight-sets win over Aljaz Bedene in the third round of the French Open, beating the Slovenian 6-3 6-3 6-2 to set up a last-16 clash with Diego Schwartzman.

Serbian star Djokovic, who is bidding to become the first player other than Rafael Nadal to win consecutive men's singles titles at Roland Garros since Gustavo Kuerten triumphed in 2000 and 2001, produced a ruthless display to blow away world number 195 Bedene in just one hour and 44 minutes.

Djokovic started as he meant to go on, launching an onslaught which forced Bedene to save five break points throughout his first two service games, before the Slovenian finally succumbed to a break in his third.

The top seed was virtually perfect on his own serve, winning 94 per cent of points on first serve in the opening set before picking up another decisive break just three games into the second.

Despite appearing to struggle with the glare at times on a sun-bathed Court Philippe-Chatrier, Djokovic continued his professional display to move closer to victory, recording just three unforced errors to his opponent's 13 in the second set.

To the delight of some in the crowd, Bedene forced his first and only break point of the encounter in the opening game of the third set, only for Djokovic to power a fierce volley past the 32-year-old before recovering to hold serve.

The world number one did not look back from there, breaking to love in the fourth game before wrapping up a routine win after forcing two match points on Bedene's serve to set up a seventh career meeting with Schwartzman, against whom he boasts a 100 per cent record.

Data Slam: Dominant Djokovic wraps up another straight-sets win

The world number one looks to be hitting form at the perfect time after a troubled start to the year: Djokovic has won 19 straight sets of tennis since the start of the Internazionale d'Italia earlier this month, recording a series of perfect displays since his Madrid Open final loss to Carlos Alcaraz.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic 30/18
Bedene 23/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic 9/1
Bedene 4/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic 5/11
Bedene 0/1

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