Rafael Nadal holds almost every Roland Garros record, playing in Paris 18 times and lifting 14 trophies! The Spaniard is missing this year's edition, and his great rival Novak Djokovic took the opportunity and stole the record from the king of clay.
Novak became the first player with 17 Roland Garros quarter-finals, leaving Rafa on 16. Thus, the Serb joined Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer on the list of players with 17 quarter-finals at a single Major. Connors achieved that at his beloved US Open, and Federer added 18 at Wimbledon, including one from a year ago.
Now, Novak is also on the list, standing as the most successful player in that segment at Roland Garros. Djokovic debuted at Roland Garros in 2005 and lost in the second round. He bounced back stronger a year later, reaching his first Major quarter-final and starting his incredible journey in Paris.
The Serb lost in the third round in 2009, and it remains his earliest Roland Garros defeat, reaching at least the quarter-final for 14 straight years! Novak kicked off his 19th Roland Garros campaign against Aleksandar Vukic, beating the American in straight sets.
Marton Fucsovics pushed the Serb to the limits in the second round's opening set. After an hour and a half, Novak prevailed and raised his level in sets two and three to seal the deal and move through. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina challenged Djokovic even harder in the third round, as they played the opening two sets for almost three hours.
Novak grabbed them and scored a 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 triumph for a place in the last 16. Djokovic secured a place in the record-breaking 17th quarter-final after a routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over world no. 94 Juan Pablo Varillas in an hour and 57 minutes.
Novak Djokovic is the first player with 17 Roland Garros quarter-finals.
The Serb had a more relaxed day at the office on Court Philippe-Chatrier, controlling the pace and preserving energy for the upcoming duels. Novak had issues with the French crowd but stayed calm and maintained a high level that carried him through.
Djokovic struggled on the second serve, but that could not cost him much after serving at 80%. The Serb barely lost a point behind the first serve and got broken once from three chances offered to his rival. World no. 94 could not follow that pace, dropping half of the points in his games and losing serve six times from 12 chances offered to Djokovic.
Novak controlled the pace with 35 winners and 20 unforced errors. He built the advantage in the shortest, mid-range and most advanced rallies to sail over the top and arrange the duel against Karen Khachanov.
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