French Open

Djokovic, Zverev eye semi-finals

2018-06-05 06:56
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic (AP)

Paris - Novak Djokovic can reach a 32nd Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday when the 12-time major winner faces unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in the last-eight of the French Open

Alexander Zverev, the second seeded German, is in his first quarter-final at the majors where he faces Dominic Thiem who has made the semi-finals in Paris in the last two years. 

With world number two Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko already eliminated, the bottom half of the women's draw has been throw wide open. 

World number 98 Yulia Putintseva, a quarter-finalist two years ago, tackles Madison Keys of the United States. 

Keys's close friend Sloane Stephens, the US Open champion, takes on Russia's Daria Kasatkina who put out Wozniacki. 

A looks at Tuesday's four quarter-finals: 

Novak Djokovic (SRB x20) v Marco Cecchinato (ITA)

Head-to-head: First meeting 

- 2016 champion Djokovic, in a 12th Roland Garros quarter-final and 40th at the majors, is bidding to reach his 32nd Grand Slam semi-final when he faces world number 72 Cecchinato. 

Playing at his lowest ranking for almost 12 years after months of struggling with an elbow injury and indifferent form, Djokovic has made the last eight by dropping just one set. 

Cecchinato is bidding to become the first Italian man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Corrado Barazzutti in Paris in 1978. 

The Italian, who has one career title to Djokovic's 68, had never won a match at the majors before this year's French Open. 

Two years ago, his career was almost derailed when he became embroiled in match fixing allegations. 

He was suspended for 18 months by the Italian tennis federation in July 2016 before later being cleared of any wrongdoing.

 

Alexander Zverev (GER x2) v Dominic Thiem (AUT x7)

Head-to-head: Thiem leads 4-2 

- Zverev is playing in a quarter-final at the Slams for the first time while Thiem has made the semi-finals in Paris for the last two years. 

After fighting through three consecutive five-set match-wins, Zverev is still on track to be the first German men's champion at Roland Garros since 1937. 

Even though he trails Thiem in their head-to-head, he won their most recent meeting on clay in the Madrid final this year. 

Thiem boasts being the only player to have defeated Rafael Nadal on clay prior to Roland Garros this year in the Madrid quarter-finals, ending the 10-time French Open champion's 21-match winning streak on clay. It was the first time Nadal had dropped a set on clay since Thiem's victory against him in Rome in 2017.

 

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) v Madison Keys (USA x13)

Head-to-head: First meeting 

- Kazakhstan's Putintseva will be playing her second quarter-final at Roland Garros, but this time it has been more of a surprise after slipping to 98th in the world rankings. 

Keys had always struggled on clay before this year, but has now reached the last eight at all four Grand Slams after impressively cruising through the draw without dropping a set. 

"Once you get to the second week, every match obviously has more nerves, and there's more on the line and all of that," said last year's US Open runner-up. "So now it's really just managing your expectations and your nerves and the moment." 

Sloane Stephens (USA x10) v Daria Kasatkina (RUS x14)

Head-to-head: First meeting 

- Like her compatriot and good friend Keys, US Open champion Stephens is in the quarter-finals for the first time and hoping to set up a repeat of last year's final in New York. 

But the 10th seed will have to be wary of the dangerous Kasatkina, who saw off Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets to notch her third consecutive win over the Australian Open winner. 

The Russian also reached the Indian Wells final earlier this year, and has now won six times against players ranked in the world's top two.

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