Spanish pair David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro led the way into the French Open quarter-finals yesterday on the back of comfortable straight-sets wins.
Joining them in the last eight, in matches held over from Sunday in the opposing half of the draw, were Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
Sixth seed Ferrer cruised past countryman Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-2, 6-0, while 12th seed Almagro pushed aside Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Tsonga, seeking to provide a first French win in the men’s singles since Yannick Noah in 1983, returned to action against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 4-2 ahead in the fifth set and despite dropping his serve in the opening game, he held steady to pull off a 6-4, 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 win that saw him into the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the first time.
Next up is a meeting with top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who has history-making on his mind too as he bids to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
“It was tough yesterday as it was dark at the end. I don’t know if was great for me or not, but I came on the court this morning with a good spirit. I had a good night’s sleep and I was ready to play again,” Tsonga said.
Del Potro was two sets to one up against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic when darkness fell on their round-of-16 tie late on Sunday and he wasted little time on their return yesterday to complete a 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 win.
His reward is another crack at third seed Roger Federer, to whom he lost a thrilling five-setter in the 2009 semi-finals. Ferrer’s win over Granollers took him through to the quarter-finals for the third time in his career.
The sixth seed’s opponent in the last eight is the winner of the match between fourth seed Andy Murray of Britain and Richard Gasquet of France.
Played in weather conditions more suited to late November than early June, and in front of a paltry set of fans on the Philippe Chatrier court, Ferrer made it four straight sets wins out of four against his younger countryman.
The 30-year-old sixth seed simply had too much power and experience for his opponent, accelerating smoothly away from him after grabbing the first break of serve in the match in the sixth game of the first set.
He stormed through the second set for the loss of just two games, and with Granollers looking increasingly deflated, Ferrer had no difficulty in closing out what had been a lop-sided contest.
From now on in, he said, it was all about controlling his occasionally brittle emotions.
“Maybe I’ve changed a little,” Ferrer said. “In 2012, in any case, I felt really good. I have to continue on this same path. That is, I have to remain calm and serene. In doing that, I’ll better manage my stress.”
The 26-year-old Almagro had reached the quarter-finals twice before in 2008 and 2010, losing to Rafael Nadal in both instances, but he was knocked out in the first round last year.
Any memories of that dismal campaign were forgotten as Almagro fired off four aces — out of nine in the entire match — against Tipsarevic to clinch the first set and he never looked back.
Second seed, and defending champion, Nadal was playing later yesterday against Juan Monaco of Argentina, with the winner going up against Almagro.