Unshackled Zverev to take on Djokovic, birthday boy Nadal learns fate
Novak Djokovic was irrepressible in a straight-sets win over Jan-Lennard Struff at the French Open and faces an exciting quarter-final against Alexander Zverev.
Top seed Djokovic showed no mercy in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 dismissal of Struff but will likely face a much tougher test against Zverev, who ousted Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-5).
After Kei Nishikori ousted Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 7-5 in a match held over from Sunday, Dominic Thiem hit a ridiculous tweener as he saw off Gael Monfils - the last remaining Frenchman in the draw - 6-4 6-4 6-2.
Next up for last year's runner-up Thiem is Karen Khachanov, who broke new ground by defeating eighth seed Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-3 3-6 6-3 to reach the last eight of a grand slam for the first time in his career.
DJOKOVIC ON SONG
Struff started positively on Court Philippe-Chatrier but Djokovic quickly shifted through the gears to take control of the match.
The world number one produced some of his cleanest hitting at Roland Garros this year, leaving Struff powerless to resist in a one-sided encounter.
If Djokovic can maintain or even build on that sort of form, it will take something incredibly special to deny him a fourth major title in succession.
BIRTHDAY BOY NADAL LEARNS FATE
With the meeting between Paire and Nishikori suspended due to bad light on Sunday, the 'King of Clay' faced a wait to find out who his opponent would be in the quarter-finals.
It looked like being the Frenchman when, having trailed two sets to one overnight, he broke to have a chance to serve out the fifth set.
However, Paire faltered and Nishikori pounced, winning four games in succession to get a shot at 11-time champion Nadal on Tuesday.
Going up against an opponent who went the distance in the previous round might be a bit of a gift for newly minted 33-year-old Nadal.
ZVEREV HAPPY TO SHARE SPOTLIGHT
Having long been tipped as the next young player to win a major, Zverev has relished Stefanos Tsitsipas – who exited after losing a five-set epic to Stan Wawrinka in round four on Sunday – taking a share of the spotlight by winning in Estoril, reaching the final in Madrid and getting to the semi-finals in Rome.
After admitting he was enjoying not being the centre of attention, Zverev said: "The best thing that could have happened for me is how good Tsitsipas' clay-court season was.
"I'm happy for him. He played a great match [against Wawrinka] which unfortunately didn't go his way. But Stan and him played unbelievably well. So, he can be proud of something.
"But he was kind of the new superstar all of a sudden and for me, it was actually quite a nice thing that not all of the attention of the kind of NextGen thing is only going towards me."
THIEM'S TWEENER THE SHOT OF THE TOURNAMENT
Monfils could do little but applaud when Thiem backtracked to chase down a backhand from a net and fire the ball into the open court between his legs.
"It was an amazing shot. It was really amazing, of course, because it was the only choice I had. I was so far off the ball and couldn't play it any different way," said Thiem.
"And if that ball goes in it's always a big highlight. And I'm happy I have my first tweener of the year, I guess."