While the bottom half of the draw is dominated by the old guard of Rafa Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the top half sees two of the NextGen army holding their own against their more experienced peers.
So I am happy to get through this and into another quarter-final here Alexander Zverev
Karen Khachanov and Alexander Zvererv are the two who could well finally break the grip of older generation
Khachanov, the tenth seed, is the first Russian to reach the last eight at Roland Garros since Mikhail Youzhny in 2010 following a tense fourth round battle with Juan Martin del Potro which he eventually claimed 7-5 6-3 3-6 6-3.
The 23-year-old faces the Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem next who reached the final last year where he lost to the King of Clay.
“It was the best match ever for me at a Grand Slam,” said Khachanov, the Paris Masters champion, said. “Let’s go for more.”
The big Russian fired 57 winners past the two-time French Open semi-finalist Del Potro with victory assuring the Russian of a first ever spot in the world top 10.
Thiem meantime, dashed French hopes on Court Philippe Chatrier by taking out their last challenger Gael Monfils to reach his fourth successive quarter-final at the second grand slam of the year.
Last year’s runner-up won 6-4 6-4 6-2 in front of a packed auditorium who did their best to lift their man.
“I love playing here and I hope I can be on this court again on Wednesday,” Thiem said.
The 25-year-old Thiem, still looking for his first Grand Slam title despite reaching the Roland Garros semis in each of the last three years, hit 27 winners in an efficient performance as the erratic Monfils made 33 unforced errors.
Thiem surged into a 5-1 lead in the opening set before Monfils briefly rallied, but it was one-way traffic after that, with the Austrian pulling off one magnificent ‘tweener’ shot between his legs.
“When it goes in, it’s called a hot-shot,” he said.
At the top of the draw world number one Novak Djokovic remains on course to achieve his goal of holding all four major titles at the same time, for the second time!
The Serb never allowed Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff into the match cruising past him 6-3 6-3 6-2 to reach the last eight for the tenth successive time in what is his 13th appearance at that stage.
“It was tricky with the rain, but that’s Paris,” said the 2016 champion after playing in drizzly conditions. “I’m really confident with my serve. I hope it continues like that.”
The 15-time Grand Slam champion slammed 31 winners past world number 45 Struff on Court Philippe Chatrier and made only 12 unforced errors.
He broke serve five times in the match and only faced one himself when he was serving for the match but it didn’t stop him closing it out on his first match point for his quarter-finals spot.
Another German, Alexander Zverer will provide him with his next challenge, the fifth seed after he successfully worked his way past Fabio Fognini who required treatment to his leg and played with it heavily strapped.
Zverev won 3-6 6-2 6-2 7-6(5) to reach the last eight at Roland Garros for the second consecutive year where he will face Djokovic for fifth time in his career, the two holding two wins apiece against each other.
“Fabio is playing the best tennis of his life,” said Zverev of the 32-year-old Italian who won his first Masters title on the clay of Monte Carlo in the run-up to Paris.
“So I am happy to get through this and into another quarter-final here.”
Earlier in the day Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire completed their third round match which had been delayed overnight. The seventh seeded Japanese won 6-2 6-7(8) 6-2 6-7(8) 7-5 completing the match in just under four hours to reach his third last-eight clash at the French Open.
“He almost had it today,” said Nishikori who had led two sets to one when the last-16 tie was suspended on Sunday.
“He served for the match at 5-3 but I just tried to fight and play one point at a time.”
The 29-year-old Japanese could have wrapped it up in the fourth set when he had two match points, but he squandered both, the second on a double fault.
Nishikori, who hasn’t much time to recover before facing the defending champion, who he has only defeated twice in 12 meetings with both of those wins coming on hard court.
“It’s going to be a tough match, he’s the greatest ever clay court player,” said the philosophical Nishikori.