Three matches in three sets, less than three lost games per round: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic joined the second week of Roland-Garros on Friday as quickly as possible.
Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz, who had lost his way in the previous round, gave him the gas to reach the round of 16 on clay in Paris for the first time.
† Rafa and Toni, family reunion
For the first time since he is no longer trained by his uncle Toni, “Rafa” will find him in the opposite camp, that of Félix Auger-Aliassime, his next adversary, with whom his former mentor has been collaborating for some time. year.
Nadal will present himself in the best possible circumstances, given the circumstances: he who had left Rome limping and grim, betrayed by his left foot, ten days from Roland-Garros, saw an ideal start to the fortnight. In three matches, he did not miss a single set and lost only 23 matches.
Back under the sun and under the eyes of Zinedine Zidane, the Spaniard played his “best minutes of the game since coming back from my rib injury” in early May, he said.
Specifically: a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory at the expense of Botic van de Zandschulp (29th), and only one delicate moment, when after unsuccessfully taking a ball from 5 games to 0 in the third set, he then had to throw a ball from 5 games anywhere while serving to win the match.
Auger-Aliassime had never won a single Porte d’Auteuil match before this 2022 edition. He reached the round of 16 by Serb Filip Krajinovic (55th) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7 /2), 7-5.
Neither Nadal nor “FAA” want to make anything out of this family reunion.
For “Rafa”, “it’s very simple, I know he wants the best for me, and I for him. Most of all, we come from the same family”.
“If there was a secret to beating +Rafa+, he wouldn’t have won here thirteen times,” replies the Canadian.
† Djokovic in speed
Like Nadal, Djokovic starts the tournament very calmly: he also has only 23 games left in three games.
Confronted with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, ex-top 50 today 195th in the world, the world number 1 won 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in 1h44 min.
His first week in Paris confirms the Roman impression: “Nole” seems to have become himself again after spending a first quarter almost without competition after his incredible expulsion from Australia, for lack of a vaccine against Covid-19.
We’ll know more with his round of 16 against Diego Schwartzman (16th), the player who has won the most games on clay this season, for Alcaraz. The little Argentinian made short work of the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (6-3, 6-1, 6-2) in the third round.
“I’m ready for the physical battle. I haven’t spent too much time on the field and I feel the ball well,” Djokovic warns.
† Alcaraz speeds up again
Confronted with American talent Sebastian Korda (30th), the last player to beat him, in Monte-Carlo in the first round in mid-April – his only defeat on ocher in 2022 – Alcaraz put his foot back on the accelerator in s impressive 6 -4, 6-4, 6-2 in just over two hours into the evening session.
Two days earlier, the young Spaniard had saved a match point against his compatriot Albert Ramos before coming out after a 4:34 minute marathon match, the longest of his fledgling career.
No fear on Friday night: “Carlitos”, supported by a pair of Madrid supporters who were present in the stands of the Central on the eve of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Stade de France, never conceded his service and placed exceptional success at net (82%, 18 of 22 points won).
Here he is now on a run of thirteen wins in a row.
For a place in the quarter-finals, Alcaraz, after a hair-raising spring already the number 6 in the world at 19, will face Russia’s Karen Khachanov (25th).
World number three Alexander Zverev rejected American Brandon Nakashima (75th) with 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
† Parry, it’s over
The fine career of Diane Parry, 19th and 97th in the world, ended in the third round – her first in a Grand Slam – against 2018 finalist American Sloane Stephens (64th), victorious 6-2, 6-3 .
Two other Americans also entered the second week: young Coco Gauff (23, 18th), who fell to Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-4, and Amanda Anisimova (28th), winner by cessation (6 -7 (7/9), 6-2, 3-0) of the Czech Karolina Muchova, ankle sprained.
Two other French women are trying to reach the third round on Saturday: Alizé Cornet and Léolia Jeanjean.