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Sabalenka stays dominant in Paris, 1 win from 7th straight Grand Slam semifinal

Aryna Sabalenka’s dominant run at the French Open continued Monday with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Emma Navarro to reach the quarterfinals.

And watch out, because now the sun is shining at Porte d’Auteuil in the southwest of Paris.

“When the sun is out, I play with a lot more happiness,” said Sabalenka, who has yet drop at Roland Garros this year.

She certainly showed some joy after her fourth-round win over the 22nd-seeded Navarro, displaying disco-inspired dance moves on her way off the court to the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive played loudly on the phone of No. 8 Ons Jabeur, who stood near a staircase leading to the locker room.

The second-seeded Sabalenka is one win away from her seventh straight Grand Slam semifinal. She will face the unseeded Mirra Andreeva, who reached the quarterfinals of a major for the first time after beating Varvara Gracheva 7-5, 6-2.

Other results included No. 12 Jasmine Paolini defeating Elina Avanesyan 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina advancing past Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-3. Paolini and Rybakina will meet in the quarterfinals.

“She’s a tough opponent. She’s moving well and hitting the ball quite heavily. I’ll have to focus on my footwork,” Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champion, said of Paolini.

With temperatures in Paris approaching 22 C, the absence of rain allowed the matches on Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen to proceed with an open roof.

That hot, really?

Djokovic breaks tie with Federer

Novak Djokovic was not sure whether he would be able to play in the French Open quarterfinals after injuring his right knee and needing anti-inflammatory pills Monday to be able to finish beating No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the fourth round at Roland Garros for his record 370th win in a Grand Slam match.

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“Good thing about the Slam is that you have a day between that will allow hopefully the healing process to happen more efficiently for me,” Djokovic said. “That’s it. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or after tomorrow, if I’ll be able to step out on the court and play. You know, I hope so. Let’s see what happens.”

Djokovic said he has been bothered by the knee for a couple of weeks, but it got worse after he tweaked it early in the second set Monday. He took a medical timeout, then was visited a few other times by a trainer and a doctor, who gave him the medicine — both during the second set and again after the third — that Djokovic said eventually helped him feel better and move without restrictions.

The defending champion at Roland Garros, he broke a tie with Roger Federer for the most match wins at major tournaments, and also for the most Slam quarterfinals for a man by reaching the 59th of his career.

And the No. 1-ranked Djokovic did it in ways he has so often over his years of dominance and 24 major trophies, both turning around a contest after trailing — go ahead and ask Federer about holding match points against the guy — and emerging when the tension is greatest. This victory across more than 4 1/2 hours means that Djokovic is now 40-11 in fifth sets over his career; compare that with Cerundolo’s 1-3 mark, and the outcome should surprise no one.

“I was,” Djokovic said, “maybe three or four points away from losing this match.”

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For Djokovic, this was the second consecutive outing that lasted more than four hours, that he he fell behind 2-1 in sets and that he won in five. In the third round, he made his way past No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti, a 22-year-old from Italy, finishing Sunday after 3 a.m., the latest finish in French Open history.

Against Cerundolo, a 25-year-old from Argentina who was trying to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, the 37-year-old Djokovic used all of his skills, experience and ability to adjust on the fly. He came through, in part, by playing more aggressively and putting extra speed on his groundstrokes, while dealing with whatever was going on with his knee.

He is supposed to meet No. 7 seed Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Ruud, who eliminated No. 12 Taylor Fritz in four sets Monday, lost to Djokovic in the French Open final last year and to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 title match.

The other men’s matchup that day will be No. 11 Alex de Minaur against No. 4 Alexander Zverev or No. 13 Holger Rune.

With temperatures topping 20 C after a tournament filled with chillier temperatures and plenty of rain, Djokovic vs. Cerundolo was played with the retractable roof at Court Philippe Chatrier open. The azure sky was visible, finally.

Medvedev receives treatment on right foot

It is far from the scorching heat de Minaur grew up with back home in Australia. The 11th seed rallied past No. 5-seeded Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 to become the first Australian to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros since Lleyton Hewitt in 2004. Medvedev had some treatment on his right foot during the second set.

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Medvedev had treatment on his right foot during the second set but said it was nothing more serious than a blister.

De Minaur conducted his on-court interview all in French.

“I want to say thank you to everyone, it was an incredible atmosphere. I was not expecting to get to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros because I haven’t played very well on clay in recent years,” the 25-year-old De Minaur said.

He tried to explain how difficult it was playing Medvedev but couldn’t find the right French, saying “C’est trop difficile,” [It’s too difficult] and still drawing loud cheers and applause.

“It is a lot easier to just have a normal conversation instead of trying to explain tennis,” De Minaur said. “I don’t have that sort of vocabulary in my disposal.”

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