Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori advance to last 16

Tanya Simon
June 5, 2018

Roberto Bautista Agut has backed "great champion" Novak Djokovic to be "on the top again" after their epic third-round tussle at the French Open.

Novak Djokovic claimed French Open officials do not appear to care about the players after he criticised the condition of the surface on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, who at 22 in the world is at his lowest ranking since 2006, became frustrated at times during the opening set, but he grabbed the first break of the match in game 10 to take a one-set advantage.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion took the first two sets by a single break of serve and raced through the third as 34-year-old Verdasco ended with 48 unforced errors.

Djokovic said: "Right now, considering I played nearly four hours in my last match, I felt pretty good physically".

The world number 72, who had never won a Grand Slam match before this week, stunned Belgian eighth seed David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.

"My life is tennis".

Djokovic took the first set, a slugfest of deuces which lasted nearly an hour, with a solitary break of serve.

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"That's when you have to deal with this kind of emotions and understand how you can get better, how you balance everything that is happening inside so you can come out the next challenge and learn from it and be better".

Djokovic eased past Spanish veteran Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and will play in the last eight at Roland Garros for a record 12th time.

American 13th seed Madison Keys also reached her first Roland Garros quarter-final with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. "I'm not proud of that, to be honest".

Djokovic smashed his racquet after missing a simple forehand close to the net and there were further signs of frustration when he fell behind early in the next set, too.

"That's the thing I've been doing for a lot of years".

"It was a big point", Djokovic explained, "And I managed to come back from being down in the tie-break, and 6-6". "But it happens. At times in my career, when I would scream or throw a racket, it would wake me up and help to free myself from that pressure that is just building throughout the match".

However, he eventually ran out of energy - physically and mentally - as he was unable to reach the last 16 for the third straight year.

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