Come on, a little more. Higher…
Novak Djokovic’s special relationship with the Parisian grandstand is experiencing yet another episode this Sunday when the Serbian scores a good point – with 4-2 in favor, in the first set – and starts gesturing. The Chatriers get up, still wanting to march, they start booing and Nole gets into the rag arguing, asking the respectable to increase the decibels because it sounds like music to their ears and with each whistle their desire to conquer this Roland Garros grows. . He’s not going the wrong way: 6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 against Juan Pablo Varillas, in 1h 57m. I mean, he’ll make it to the quarterfinals once again, and it’s already 17; no one, not even 16-year-old Rafael Nadal himself, has done it on so many occasions; not even Roger Federer, 12 years old.
The Swiss watches the tournament on television, Nadal does it secretly from the stretcher – five months out after having done his shop, psoas and hip – and continues to serve boxes in the French arena, where the sweet spoils of the tournament. Without feeling entirely well, and again “playing cat and mouse” with the public, Djokovic is already flying over the penultimate round, in which he will face Karen Khachanov. The Russian, eleventh in the world, raises the set conceded to the Italian Lorenzo Sonego (1-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) and 6-1), but notices the arrival of the Balkans and suffers from cold sweats , as the stats reflect only one win in nine matches against him; He is far away, in 2018, and it was right in Paris. Sure, indoors and hard, Bercy.
They lean on the ramps, trouble arrives and, not surprisingly, Nole’s tone increases and his game acquires verve against an opponent who considers the completed track more than good. Peruvian Varillas, 27 years old and his country’s first representative in the last 16 since Jaim Yzaga managed to reach the top in 1994, fights and gets few prizes. He crashes into the wall. He had passed the previous three ladders in five series, but inevitably fell into the web woven by the Belgrade. The moment of truth approaches and Nole widens. He’s three wins away from his 23rd greaterand suggests that now yes, he begins to feel that his blows do damage.
“I really enjoyed it, it was my best performance. I’m very happy and very motivated to continue”, replies Marion Bartoli in the interview. “17 presences in the rooms? It means I’m getting old…,” she jokes in French, as the Parisian crowd smoothes things over and cheers for him. I said, curious relationship; Paris and Djokovic, neither with you nor without you. “I felt great energy and this victory comes at the right time. Things are going to get tough, but I like the way I play. I feel better than in recent months. These past ten days are the best I’m getting from Australia [donde ganó]. I have to move forward and not allow myself to overthink, but I’m on the right track,” he adds in a chat with Mats Wilander on Eurosport.
Despite his stratospheric sprint records, Djokovic continues to prove his competitiveness on gravel. He has 89 victories in the tournament – only Nadal is ahead, with 112 – and is aiming for his third summit at Roland Garros, where he landed with a low speech and the worst preparatory figures of his career. Despite the inactivity after Australia – he missed the North American tour due to his refusal to get the covid vaccine – and despite all the circumstances, feeling older and missing Nadal, the pain he also says he suffers , Nole is already there, stealthy, like the predator behind the bush. If he lifts the Musketeers cup on the 11th, he will match purebred earthlings like Kuerten, Wilander or Lendl. In Paris, the great racquet-eater gradually awakens.