Day 7 diary: Djokovic tames the cactus

All the best quotes, stats and more from a memorable Day 6 at Roland-Garros.

Novak Djokovic third round Roland Garros 2019©Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Novak Djokovic is making light work of his first week at Roland-Garros, dropping just eight games in each of his first three matches.

The top seed booked a fourth-round berth with a commanding 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 result over 147th ranked qualifier Salvatore Caruso with the only real curve ball he faced on Saturday coming in his post-match press conference.

The win marked the 13th time in 14 years Djokovic had reached the fourth round or better in Paris and prompted the following opening exchange.

Q: “13 times in the last 16. 13 times in the last 16. In 14 times you played, last 14 years you played here, so is not bad.”

Novak Djokovic: “You will have to repeat this,” he laughed. “I'm trying to follow you.”

Q. “13 times in the last 16.”

Djokovic: “13 of last 14 years.”

Q. “So is not too bad.”

Djokovic: “Not too bad. There is a lot of numbers. Yes.”

The reporter wasn’t done perplexing the Serb just yet, drawing on an analogy from a seven-time Grand Slam champion.

Q: “Talking to Mats Wilander the other day, he said, ‘I think Novak will have more slam titles than Federer and Nadal at the end of the career, because he's younger and so, and so, and so. And said if they were all at the same number of slams, Djokovic should deserve to be considered the best because he had to play against cactus, and Nadal and Federer were playing against lilacs, flowers.”

Djokovic: “You quoted him? Really? That's what he said?”

Q. “You played against cactus because you had to play Nadal, Federer.”

Djokovic: “In the desert?”

Q. “In the desert …”

Djokovic: “With no water?”

Q.” Yes. The others had to play against lilacs, which are flowers.”

Djokovic: “Where to start? … I appreciate, of course, nice words and compliments from Mats. He's one of the legends of our sport. I don't know what to say. I have never played or fought against cactus in my life, so when I do that, if I get a chance, then I will answer your question.”

Fair play, Djokovic!

Comeback of the day

In-form German Jan-Lennard Struff booked his first berth in the fourth round of a major with a dramatic four-hour, 25-minute triumph over No.13 seed Borna Coric.

The world No.45 was down two-sets-to-one, and fell behind an early break in the deciding set. Coric again broke to serve for the match at 7-6 only for Struff to break to love before going on to break the Croat’s serve a fifth time to secure the result 11-9 in the fifth.

Stats of the day

1 – Despite her third-round departure, Naomi Osaka will hold on to the world No.1 ranking following No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova’s second-round exit on Friday.

3 – Number of teenagers through to the fourth round in the women’s draw at Roland-Garros, with Amanda Anisimova (17), Iga Swiatek (18) and Marketa Vondrousova (19) through. It marks only the second time in the past 38 slams two or more teens have reached the round of 16 (also at Wimbledon 2013).

500 – Tour-level match wins Stan Wawrinka has registered after his fifth win over Grigor Dimitrov in nine meetings on Saturday. The Swiss returned to close out the pair’s darkness-interrupted match in straight sets.

1987 –Katerina Siniakova defeats Naomi Osaka to become the first doubles world No.1 to beat a singles No.1 since Martina Navratilova beat Steffi Graf in the 1987 US Open final.

2014 – The last time Serena Williams fell before the second week at a Grand Slam was Wimbledon 2014, when Frenchwoman Alize Cornet ended her run. On Saturday, it was 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin who took down the No.10 seed.

Quotes of the day

“Definitely I think this tournament I have had a feeling that was different to the other Grand Slams, or, like, every other Grand Slam that I have played, because usually I find it very freeing and fun, and this time around I was kind of tense the entire time.”

-- Naomi Osaka explains the heightened attention as the world No.1 after bombing out against Czech Katerina Siniakova on Saturday.

“I don't want to say I feel depressed, but I do. I think it's a natural part of life, especially if you train super hard for moments like these, and then you don't perform how you want to. I feel like saying that ‘I'm depressed’ is a very strong statement. Because I felt that way before, and it's not as extreme as that. So I would just say I'm very disappointed in how I played, and I wish I could have done better.”

-- Osaka puts the gravity of her shock third-round defeat into perspective.

“Me and Marcelo Melo … we found a new thing for us. We take out the scooters that are everywhere, those companies, you can hire the scooters and we go to restaurants only by scooters. We haven't taken the car one time. Two days ago we actually maybe went a bit too far. We had dinner close to the Eiffel Tower, which is 5.5km away. It was tradition. He's very superstitious. We had to take the scooters back, which took us about 45 minutes, 11pm at night.”

-- Alexander Zverev reveals he and good friend Marcelo Melo’s preferred mode of transport in the French capital.

“I'm just pretty far away, but that's the optimistic part is I haven't been able to be on the court as much as I would have. That's OK. At least I can start trying to put the time in now.”

-- Serena Williams discusses how far she is from peak conditioning and practice and draws the positives from an early departure.

Reporter: “If I have it right, you just tweeted out an interesting saying: ‘Earth and water have always been as they are’. Could you reflect on that? What does that mean to you?”

Stefanos Tsitsipas: “I have no clue what that means, because that's an ancient Greek quote, and I don't speak ancient Greek. All of these quotes that I write are all in ancient Greek. It is something about water and Earth combined together. There are some interesting ones online you can find. I have been doing it in Australia, as well. I have been posting in ancient Greek. It seems cool to me. I don't know why.”

-- Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas draws inspiration from his forebears.