Italian jobs loom in last 16 for Djokovic and Nadal at French Open
Top seed Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal both moved into last 16 on Saturday and respective showdowns with the rising Italian teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner.
Djokovic saw off Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 in 92 minutes on centre court. Nadal was equally efficient on Court Suzanne Lenglen. He dispatched Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and seven minutes.
"I was playing somebody who’s having a great season,” said Nadal of Norrie. “I went on court knowing that it could be a tough match. I'm happy to win in straight sets.”
Nadal will take on Sinner in the last 16 after he beat Mikael Ymer from Sweden 6-1, 7-5, 6-3. Nadal and Sinner met in the quarter-finals at last year’s French Open. “I need to be solid. I need to be aggressive too because if not it will be very difficult,” said Nadal of Monday’s match.
“I need to make him play from tough positions and I can't make a lot of mistakes.
“In the fourth round, you can't expect an easy opponent out there but Jannik is not the best fourth round match … he's a dangerous one. He’s young. He's a great player.”
Djokovic will play the unseeded Musetti after the 19-year-old edged out his compatriot Marco Cecchinato in five sets.
“We’ve never faced each other but we did practice this season on clay in Monte-Carlo couple of times and other tournaments,” said Djokovic.
“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 a great feel and can come to the net."
The 34-year-old Serb added: “I know he will be a big challenge. So there is no question I have to go out playing on a high level because he will not have much to lose.”
Elsewhere in the top half of the men’s draw, 10th seed Diego Schwartzman saw off the veteran Philip Kohlschreiber. The Argentine won 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in just over two hours. The 37-year-old German had been trying to reach the last 16 for the third time in 17 visits.
Schwartzman, who lost to Nadal in last year’s semi-final, will face another German, Jan-Lennard Struff, after he came through in straight sets against the Spaniard Carlos Alcarez.
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