French Open Day 8: Carlos Alcaraz moves on to 2nd career Grand Slam quarterfinal
Welcome to Day 8 of the French Open. After a full week of play, we're now in Round 4, the field of 128 men and 128 women now down to 16 men and 16 women. We're coming down to the nitty gritty, and there are some interesting and unexpected names still playing and even making it to the quarterfinals.
Who will make it to the quarterfinals? Read on to find out.
Alcaraz moves on to second career Grand Slam quarterfinal
It was challenging, but Carlos Alcaraz defeated Karen Khachanov 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to move onto the quarterfinals. When the match started and Alcaraz began careening around the court like a gazelle, Khachanov looked bewildered. He spent most of the first set like that, because it should be impossible for someone to be everywhere at once like Alcaraz is. Alcaraz took advantage, finishing off the 6-1 first set in just 29 minutes. Khachanov woke up in the second set and worked hard to prevent Alcaraz from routing him, and was mostly successful. But Alcaraz was just too... everything. Too fast, too young, too strong, too crafty. It took him 18 extra minutes, but he nailed down the second set.
The third was a wild ride. Games got longer and began yo-yoing back and forth. Khachanov really stayed in it, continuing to give his all in the hope of a momentum shift. Deuce after deuce after deuce went by in the eighth game of the third set. Khachanov fended off five match points in the ninth game of the set before finally closing it out. Alcaraz finally got it done on the sixth match point, winning the game, the set, and the match. He'll be facing Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.
Nadal overcomes challenge from Auger-Aliassime
No matter who he’s facing, no matter what surface he’s playing on, you can never count Rafael Nadal out. We’ve seen it so many times and it continues to astound. Nadal was seriously challenged by 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, but pulled through in a five-set thriller, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. It was a four hour and 21 minute match that took Nadal to the brink, which is a credit to Auger-Aliassime and his level of talent at just 21 years old.
Nadal stumbled out of the gate, looking a little limp against Auger-Aliassime in the first set. It looked like he was already digging deep when he won the second set, but Nadal found even more energy somewhere and took the third set. Even when Nadal would miss an easy chance or send a ball long, he was still lacing shots into corners and on lines with surgical precision. He could still keep up with Auger Aliassime, 14 years his junior, taking enormous strides and sliding to reach for shots like a player at his peak. His drop shots were stunning, and he sent Auger-Aliassime running for high, looping balls more than once.
Mindbending 😵💫#RolandGarros | @RafaelNadal pic.twitter.com/fw35KUamUG
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 29, 2022
Auger-Aliassime was no less brilliant. He looked natural on clay, often setting the pace and sending Nadal running all over the court. He was fearless facing the greatest clay player of all time, challenging him at every chance and fighting back to take the fourth set. In fact, Auger-Aliassime may be the player who was most equipped to beat the Roland Garros GOAT: he's trained by Nadal's uncle and ex-coach, Toni Nadal. Auger-Aliassime made one too many mistakes in the fifth set, aided by Nadal continuing to be sharp after an incredible four hours on the court. FAA has a bright future, and taking Nadal to five sets is more evidence.
Fernandez into quarterfinals for first time
Leylah Fernandez set another personal best on Sunday. Just two days after making it into Round 4 at Roland Garros for the first time, Fernandez has now advanced into the quarterfinals after beating American Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Fernandez, the No. 17 seed, had to fight fellow teenager Anisimova (seeded 27th) pretty hard to make it through. Fernandez came out strong, winning the first four games in about 11 minutes, but then started to falter. She was having trouble with her serves, and Anisimova took advantage of the double faults, dominating most of the second set. In the final set, they traded games for awhile, but Fernandez was able to settle down and finish off her victory.
𝐂𝐋𝐀𝐘-𝐋𝐀𝐇@leylahfernandez defeats Anisimova 6-3,4-6,6-3 to secure her spot in the quarterfinals! #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/Y86bQbT2G7
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 29, 2022
Gauff powers her way into quarterfinals
Coco Gauff beat Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-0 on Sunday, advancing to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the second year in a row. It was a very physical match with a lot of tall, looping shots and a number of long rallies (the longest at 31), but Gauff looked comfortable and in control. Mertens took a 3-2 lead in the first set, but after that it was all Coco. Mertens wouldn't take the lead again. The closest she got was tying at 4-4 in the first set, but then Gauff whipped off wins in the next eight games to win. It could be a confidence builder for her, since the last time she won four straight matches was at last year's French Open.
𝘍𝘭𝘢𝘸𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴@CocoGauff defeats Mertens 6-4,6-0 to secure her place in the final eight! #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/CRhHA4iZty
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 29, 2022
Djokovic fends off Schwartzman
For Novak Djokovic, this match seemed to be a bigger deal for him than you'd expect. There was never really a question that he'd defeat Diego Schwartzman (which he did 6-1, 6-3, 6-3), but Djokovic seemed to be celebrating his return to top form after being challenged in the second set. Schwartzman managed to jump out to a 3-0 lead, and Djokovic had to get out of the hole he'd dug. So then he won the next six games, and at one point even celebrated after fending off three break points to pull even with Schwartzman. It was an unexpected show of emotion from Djokovic, who has mostly cruised through the tournament until now, but now he's proven to himself and everyone else that he's truly back in tip top shape as he moves on to the Final 8.
Stephens, Zverez advance to quarterfinals
Sloane Stephens and Alexander Zverev are headed to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. In just 63 minutes, Stephens beat Jil Teichmann 6-2, 6-0, while Zverev survived against Bernabe Zapata Miralles following a tough first set, winning 7-6(11), 7-5, 6-3. Stephens will face Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals, while Zverev will face the winner of the match between Carlos Alcaraz and Karen Khachanov.