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French Open 2019: Imperious Novak Djokovic, upbeat Alexander Zverev to cross swords with semifinal berth at stake

Nurein Ahmed
ANALYST
Preview
06 Jun 2019, 02:03 IST

2019 French Open - Novak Djokovic
2019 French Open - Novak Djokovic

Following a rain-interrupted Wednesday at the 2019 French Open, World No.1 Novak Djokovic will meet Alexander Zverev on Thursday afternoon in a mouthwatering quarterfinal.

Djokovic is in pursuit of a second French Open title and consequently - should he win on the final Sunday - he will hold all four Grand Slam titles for the second time in his career.

The Serb has looked a rejuvenated man during the clay swing following a sub-par American hard court season. He clinched a record-extending 7th Australian Open in January which accounted for his 15th Grand Slam singles crown. But following that success in Melbourne, he suffered a dip in form at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.

A respectable quarterfinal showing in Monte Carlo was swiftly followed by his 3rd Madrid title. While Djokovic would go on to lose the final in Rome, he has timed his rise in form perfectly and he could not be better placed to launch his bid towards more Grand Slam success in the next few days.

His next challenge will come in the shape of fifth seed Alexander Zverev who stunned the Serb at the season-ending ATP Finals in London at the tail end of last year. Zverev will be gunning for his 3rd victory over the World No.1, with the head-to-head between the pair currently locked at 2-2.

The German has endured a few shoddy outings during the first week in Paris, but he is tentatively taking steps in the right direction in the Slams as the business end approaches. He came through unscathed after fighting through two five-setters and then knocked out Italy's Fabio Fognini in the fourth round.

This will be his second quarterfinal in a Major after also reaching the last eight at Roland Garros in 2018.

Prediction: Djokovic has looked near-perfect in his first four matches, going about his business with little fuss and not over-complicating matters.

He was handed a tough first round opponent in Hubert Hurkacz, but produced a domineering display in three sets. The Serb confessed to the press following his victory over Jan-Lennard Struff in the fourth round that he is fully satisfied with his game at the moment.

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For Zverev, meanwhile, the stage could not be any bigger. The German could make a real statement with a win here, but it would take a colossal effort to match Djokovic for sustained passages of play.

The 22-year-old has lost 17 of his service games up to this point (7 each to Millman and Lajovic which is worrying) and that does not bode well, particularly if he wants to earn cheap points and avoid baseline slug-fests. Regardless of Zverev's previous two wins over Djokovic (one being on clay in Rome), the Serb should run out a comfortable winner.

Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.

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