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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, June 5, 2021

 
Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic burst into the Roland Garros round of 16 for a record 12th straight year with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 conquest of Ricardas Berankis.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook

Novak Djokovic knows all about navigating the highs and lows of Grand Slam tennis.

As part of his mental preparation  for clay season, Djokovic and wife Jelena hiked Rtanj mountain.

Watch: Musetti Magic is Shot of the Tournament

The world No. 1 is peaking in Paris through week one.

Djokovic barely hit a bump ascending to the Roland Garros round of 16 for a record 12th straight year with a commanding 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 conquest of Ricardas Berankis.

In his 64th Grand Slam appearance, Djokovic registered his 54th round of 16 appearance—second only to rival Roger Federer who started today with 67 major fourth round appearances.

The top-seeded Serbian high-stepped his way to eighth straight clay-court win. While Djokovic took some criticism for his decision to play his hometown tournament in Belgrade the week before Roland Garros began, he captured his 83rd career title on Serbian soil and benefitted from the positive, supportive energy playing in front of his home fans.




A dynamic Djokovic has sustained his surge in Paris permitting just 23 games in three tournament wins.

Breezing through his service games today, Djokovic did not face a break point. The Australian Open champion has saved 14 of 15 break points he's faced through three rounds dropping serve just once in his second-round win over Pablo Cuevas, which is the only time he's been pushed past the two-hour mark.

It's been the ideal start for Djokovic, who has shown his entire arsenal making opponents disappear.

Now, the 18-time Grand Slam champion will face magic man Lorenzo Musetti as he aims for his 12th consecutive Roland Garros quarterfinal.

In an all-Italian battle, Musetti applied his magic touch, including pulling off an electrifying behind the back volley winner, out-dueling 2018 semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for his first career five-set win in his Grand Slam debut.

This will be the first Tour-level meeting between Djokovic and Musetti though the pair have faced off in practice leaving the world No. 1 impressed by the teenager's explosiveness, finesse and shot-making skills.

"I think Lorenzo is very nice, first of all, very nice kid, very nice guy. We did hit a lot in practice," Djokovic said. "Wenever faced each other, but we did practice actually thisseason on this surface in Monte-Carlo couple of times and other tournaments.

"I really like how he plays. He's got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand. He can play with a lot ofspin. He's got a great feel, come to the net. He can playshort balls, dropshots.He can flatten out his serve. He can open up with a good kick and slice. He's got really all-around game."




It was a historic day as the 19-year-old Musetti and 19-year-old compatriot Jannik Sinner both advanced to the fourth round marking the first time two teenagers have reached the round of 16 since 2006 when 19-year-olds Djokovic and Gael Monfils did it.  Miami Open finalist Sinner will face reigning Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal for the second straight year in Paris.

 Tennis Express

Back in 2006, a teenage Djokovic retired vs. Nadal in the quarterfinals. The 34-year-old Djokovic knows Musetti, even after his maiden five-set win, will be pumped up for his shot at the world No. 1.

"I know very much so that he is a big challenge to me," Djokovic said. "So there is no question I have to go out playing on a highlevel, because, you know, he will not have much to lose. I'm sure he's gonna come out and really try to play tennis of his life playing on one of the two big courts."


 

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