Two of men’s tennis biggest stars are still standing at the French Open after No. 4 Roger Federer fell in the fourth round and No. 2. Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals Sunday.
No. 1-ranked and eight-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal will next face Serbian-born and No. 83 Dusan Lajovic in fourth round action Monday.
Federer’s streak of nine consecutive quarterfinal appearances at the French was snapped following a five-set heartbreaker to No. 17 Ernests Gulbis 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3) 6-2 4-6 6-3. The 32-year-old has now been eliminated before the quarterfinals in three of the last four slams.
Recording his first career victory over the decorated Federer after three attempts, Gulbis moves on to the Paris quarters for the first time since 2008, when he was only 19. Gulbis next faces Tomas Berdych, who knocked out lone-American John Isner in straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-4, in the quarters.
A semifinalist last year, Djokovic swept No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 6-4 6-1, rattling the Frenchmen into 38 unforced errors and won most of his points off a punishing second serve and making good on seven of his nine break point opportunities.
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Next up for Djokovic is Canada’s Milos Raonic, who bested Spanish Marcel Granollers in straight sets 6-3-6-3 6-3. Djokovic has beaten Raonic in both of their career matches, most recently on clay this year in Rome, but they’ve never squared off in a major.
Federer’s departure could also be a huge boon and make a clearer path for Djokovic. In three matches this year, Djokovic lost two and managed to take only one set in the letdowns. On the same side of the bracket, the rivals were on pace to meet for a third time in Paris until Federer’s loss.
Djokovic also stays on course for revenge against Nadal, who beat out the 27-year-old in the French semis and U.S. Open final last year. Djokovic has had the recent edge winning five straight over Nadal, but has had no such luck in majors. His last victory over Nadal in a slam was 2012’s Australia Open.
Still Nadal must first take on the rather unknown quantity in Lajovic, who he’s never faced before. The 23-year-old is 5-7 on the year, and has made by far his deepest run in any tournament in Paris. His biggest win this year was in the third round over American Jack Sock in straight sets, and he nearly topped No. 22 Alexander Dolgopolov in Miami before losing the third set tiebreaker.