French Open: Guide to Tuesday's quarter-finals

French Open: Guide to Tuesday's quarter-finals

Carlos Alcaraz is bidding to reach the French Open semi-finals for the first time
Carlos Alcaraz is bidding to reach the French Open semi-finals for the first time

PARIS - Carlos Alcaraz faces a severe test of his French Open title credentials on Tuesday as he closes in on a mouth-watering showdown with 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

In the women's draw, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine will attempt to keep her unexpected run going in a politically-charged encounter against second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at the quarter-finals on the 10th day of the 2023 tournament (x denotes seeded player):

- Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x1) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x5) -

World number one Alcaraz has so far lived up to his billing as the tournament favourite but Tsitsipas, the 2021 runner-up, represents his stiffest challenge yet.

The Spaniard has won all four past meetings -- two of which have been on clay, most recently triumphing in the Barcelona Open final in April.

"We have played great matches. I won every match that we have played. But it doesn't mean that I'm going to win every match that we play," said Alcaraz.

Tsitsipas also reached this year's Australian Open final, losing again to Djokovic, and has been steady rather than spectacular in 2023.

He is yet to win a title this season but has made serene progress through the draw in Paris, dropping just the one set in his opening round.

"Right now he's one of the biggest obstacles and challenges for any player to compete against," Tsitsipas said of Alcaraz. "Rivalries like this, they are the toughest thing you can get in our sport."

Key stat: Alcaraz has made four Grand Slam quarter-finals in nine events

- Novak Djokovic (SRB x3) v Karen Khachanov (x11) -

Djokovic is in familiar territory after making the last eight in Paris for a record 17th time -- his 14th consecutive quarter-final appearance here.

The 36-year-old Serb, chasing a third French Open crown, looks to be rounding into form at the right time after an underwhelming clay season.

His lone loss in nine matches against Khachanov came in the 2018 Paris Masters final, with Djokovic dispatching the Russian in three sets in their only Roland Garros clash three years ago.

The 27-year-old Khachanov is in his third straight Grand Slam quarter-final after semi-final runs at last year's US Open and the Australian Open in January.

He trailed French journeyman Constant Lestienne by two sets in the first round and again started slowly against Lorenzo Sonego in the last 16 before figuring things out.

Djokovic, however, is a conundrum he has struggled to solve. "You need to play really good chess to beat him," said Khachanov.

Key stat: Djokovic is 89-16 at Roland Garros

Aryna Sabalenka (x2) v Elina Svitolina (UKR)

The war in Ukraine will come into sharp focus again as Sabalenka of Belarus takes on Svitolina, the Ukrainian former world number three playing her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother.

Sabalenka's first round opponent, Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk, was booed for not shaking hands in protest over the war in which Belarus is a close ally of Russia.

Svitolina, who defeated Russia's Daria Kasatkina in the last 16, has already said she will maintain the position of all Ukraine players in refusing to shake hands with Russian and Belarusian opponents.

Sabalenka has refused to carry out media commitments, claiming she does not "feel safe" having faced a barrage of questions over her stance on the war and her links to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

On the court, the pair have split their two meetings.

Key stat: Sabalenka has a WTA Tour-leading three titles in 2023

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Karolina Muchova (CZE)

Pavlyuchenkova missed last year's French Open through injury after falling in the final in 2021, but is making up for lost time 12 months on.

At 333 in the world, she is the lowest-ranked quarter-finalist ever at Roland Garros having survived a pair of three-hour matches.

The 31-year-old has knocked out three seeds to get to this point, but Muchova is unseeded herself and dumped out Maria Sakkari in the first round.

The Czech is into the second week in Paris for the first time but has twice been to the quarters at Wimbledon. Her best Grand Slam run came at the 2021 Australian Open when she made the last four.

Key stat: Pavlyuchenkova is playing her 57th Grand Slam

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