Novak Djokovic calms down hostile French Open crowd as Diego Schwartzman wins


Novak Djokovic was booed as he walked onto the pitch and listened to an oddly hostile crowd in his three-set victory over Diego Schwartzman at Roland Garros.

The Argentinian Schwartzman was clearly supported by a large South American and Spanish contingent on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

But the teasing of the world number one and defending champion seemed excessive and even prompted Eurosport’s Alex Corretja to say: “I don’t like it.

“It’s Novak Djokovic. He gave us so much.”

But Djokovic gave the perfect answer with a 6-1 6-3 6-3 demolition of the 15th seed to book his place in the quarter-finals.

The Serb is yet to drop a set in the tournament as he targets a record 21st Grand Slam title.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a good person off the pitch,” said Djokovic who is yet to drop a set this week.

“I got off to a good start, but I have a lot of work to do.”

Rafael Nadal came out in five sets (Thibault Camus/AP)

That work will begin with the highly anticipated quarter-final showdown with arch-rival Rafael Nadal, who went through a five-set marathon against Felix Augur-Aliassime.

The Spaniard, in search of title number 14 on Parisian red soil, attended the Champions League final on Saturday evening.

It looked for a while that Nadal might have celebrated Real Madrid’s victory over Liverpool a bit too much, as he was broken twice before losing the first set.

Nadal’s uncle Toni, who will have had mixed feelings as he coaches Canada’s ninth seed, watched from a position of neutrality in the presidential box as his nephew climbed into a 2-1 lead.

But when Auger-Aliassime took Nadal down in a fifth set for only the third time at Roland Garros, it was too much for senior Nadal to bear and he left.

He missed a cracker from a decider, Nadal leaping in game eight and then serving despite a heroic defense from his young opponent.

“He is undoubtedly a great player, one of the best in the world,” Nadal said after his 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 win.

“He is very young with a lot of power and great mobility. I had a very tough opponent today.

French Open Tennis

Félix Auger-Aliassime took Nadal to the end (Christophe Ena/AP)

Another sub-plot will be whether Roland Garros chiefs put the blockbuster Round of 16 encounter as the showpiece match of the night, given that it would therefore not be shown on free-to-air television in France.

The players will also have their say, and Nadal has already said he doesn’t like playing at night, while Djokovic smiled: “All I will say is Rafa and I would make different demands.” The first battle will have to be won before a ball is even hit.

Third seed Alexander Zverev won his fourth round match against Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 7-5 6-3.