PARIS: Novak Djokovic showed glimpses of his brilliant best to demolish Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 6-3 on Sunday and book his place in the French Open quarter-finals where he is likely to face 13-times champion Rafael Nadal.
The world number one’s pace was too much for Argentine Schwartzman, who barely threatened despite enjoying a 3-0 lead in the second set.
From then on it was a one-way street for Serbian Djokovic, who won 12 of the remaining 15 games on a chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“I have a lot of respect for him. He’s good guy on and off the court and he’s a claycourt specialist so it’s not easy especially in slow conditions today with a ball that was not bouncing high,” said Djokovic of Schwartzman, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2020.
“I found the good serves at the right moments.”
The match looked nothing like the 2017 Roland Garros thriller between the pair, when Djokovic had to fight from two sets down to advance to the fourth round.
Djokovic, who has now reached the last eight here for the 13th year in a row, saved two break points at 1-1 before Schwartzman dropped serve to give his opponent the early lead in the opening set.
He raced through it, barely troubled by his opponent’s drop shots and almost managing to get the extra shot.
But the Argentine was not ready to give up and he broke for 2-0 in the second set and held for 3-0 only for Djokovic to raise his level again to break back with a crosscourt forehand winner.
Always ready with a good serve when needed, the Serbian staved off break points in the next game to level for 3-3, took the 15th seed’s serve again and wrapped up set two after another break.
Schwartzman showed signs of frustration when Djokovic left him red-faced with a delightful drop shot to go 3-2 up in the third.
Djokovic, back on the Grand Slam scene after being barred by local authorities from playing at the Australian Open over his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, ended the Argentine’s ordeal by winning his final service game to love.