Monday, January 17, 2022

‘Spearfisher’, ‘real estate agent’ Ricardas Berankis stands in Djokovic, Nadal French Open Road

By AFP

PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are aiming for the French Open in the last 16 on Saturday, but they are a spearfishing fan and a prospective real estate agent.

The world’s leading Djokovic, the champion in Paris in 2016 and chasing a 19th Grand Slam title, gets the 93rd Ricardas Berankis.

Djokovic defeated 30-year-old Berankis at last year’s tournament.

If his opponent does not rejoice at the joy of being the only player in Lithuania in the top 400, he relaxes by fishing in the waters of the Baltic country.

Djokovic, who is the first man in more than half a century to win all four majors on several occasions, could reach the last 16 for a 12th consecutive year with a victory over the sea-loving Lithuanian.

The top series reached the third round without any problems and in the first two rounds achieved comfortable direct victories.

Nadal, who has been selected three times this year and is chasing a 14th French Open and recording the 21st Grand Slam, faces his fellow left-hander Cameron Norrie.

The Johannesburg-born Brit claims he would have been a real estate agent if he had not had a livelihood from tennis.

The 25-year-old, placed at 40, is enjoying a breakout season on clay and reaching the finals in Estoril and Lyon.

He has played with Nadal twice this season and lost at the Australian Open and Barcelona on clay where the Spaniard won in live sets for the loss of just five matches.

“I learned he’s actually a human,” Norrie said.

“But it could be an absolute massacre going on in his forehead.”

Nadal reached the third round with a 17th victory in 17 events with Richard Gasquet, his rival.

Roger Federer, who was locked up with 20 majors along with Nadal, aims to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the 68th time.

The 39-year-old Federer, who won his only French Open title in 2009, tackles Germany’s 59th ranking Dominik Koepfer in the evening.

Djokovic and Federer were selected to meet in the quarterfinals.

The Saturday victories for the pair will bring the game one round closer.

– Swiatek perfect –

Defending champion Iga Swiatek won the third round for losing just seven games.

The Pole has not dropped a set at the tournament since her fourth round in 2019 when she lost to 2018 champion Simona Halep.

On Saturday, the eighth-seeded take on Estonia’s 30th-seeded Anett Kontaveit, who dropped just two matches in her quick defeat to last-home side Kristina Mladenovic in the second round.

Kontaveit offers to reach the last 16 for the second time.

There are two American bands on Saturday.

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin, the best seeded player after Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, is facing Jessica Pegula.

Coco Gauff, 24, faces 13th-seeded Jennifer Brady, who was a shock finalist at the Australian Open this year.

Seventeen-year-old Gauff is the youngest player in the last 32 since 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito in 2009.

Gauff is also the youngest American to reach the third round on Roland Garros since 16-year-old Serena Williams in 1998.

The fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, a three-time quarterfinal, is up against Barbora Krejcikova, the winner on clay in Strasbourg on the eve of Roland Garros.

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