PARIS – Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic thrashed Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to book a place in the French Open last 16.
A ruthless Djokovic, world No. 1, took two hours and four minutes to get past the Italian, keeping alive his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title, and the second in France following his success in 2016.
Djokovic proved to be more than Caruso, world No. 147, could handle as the Italian’s serve was threatened in his very first service game as he had to fend off a break point.
Caruso’s resistance didn’t last long as Djokovic needed two more break points in the fourth game to grab a 3-1.
However, Caruso didn’t throw in the towel as he created four break points in Djokovic’s following two service games, two apiece, but the Serb won out to take the first set.
The 15-Grand Slam champion faced zero break points in the second set and managed to capitalize on half of four breaking points he carved out to move a set away from the second week.
The Italian had one last chance in the first game of the third set when he created a break point, but Djokovic served his way out of trouble.
Then he broke Caruso’s serve twice; first to take a 4-2 lead and then he sealed the match on his opponent’s serve on the first match point he created.
Next up for the Serb will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, who upset Borna Coric of Croatia 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (1), 11-9.
In the women’s competition, Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic pulled off big surprise by defeating Naomi Osaka of Japan, world No. 1, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 17 minutes.
A day after securing the WTA ranking’s top spot regardless of the outcome of the tournament as Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, her main rival, crashed out of the tournament, Osaka’s Grand Slam winning streak came to an end.
Osaka, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, was handed her first Grand Slam defeat in the last 10 matches.
Siniakova will take on Madison Keys of the United States, who prevailed over qualifier Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
Earlier in the day, Germany’s Alexander Zverev made it through a three-hour-match to secure a spot in the round of 16 after defeating Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
Despite winning two sets, the 2019 Monte Carlo finalist Lajovic did not manage a victory.
Zverev, 22, who is pursuing his first-ever Grand Slam, needs another tournament victory as he has not earned any titles this season except for the 2019 Geneva Open.
Meanwhile, Fabio Fognini of Italy defeated Roberto Bautista of Spain 7-6 (5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 on Friday.
The 32-year-old Fognini is getting closer to the top-10 ATP rankings for the first time in his career after his victory in a match that lasted two hours and 10 minutes.
Bautista left the Roland Garros in the third round for the second consecutive year, when he was eliminated at the hands of Serbia’s star Novak Djokovic.
Fognini will make his fourth Roland Garros last-16 appearance. Fognini and Zverev are scheduled to meet in the upcoming round.
Fognini has defeated Zverev only once in three career encounters at the 2019 Monte Carlo round of 16.
In other Roland Garros action, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece made it through after prevailing over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6) in a two-day match, becoming the first Greek player to reach the last 16 since 1963.
The match was suspended on Friday due to the onset of darkness.
“Greek History. Stefanos Tsitsipas becomes the first Greek player to reach the Roland-Garros round of 16 in 83 years after eliminating Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6),” the tournament said.
Tsitsipas is set to next take on Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, who beat Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8).