French Open 2022 Rafael Nadal On Facing Novak Djokovic: ‘It’s Going To Be A Big Challenge’
Nadal retrieved one of the breaks in the seventh game but the 21-year-old Canadian held his nerve to pocket the opener.
Two loose forehands at 3-5 in the second set opened the door for 35-year-old Nadal while the third set swung the Spaniard’s way in the third game when three rapid, defensive scrambles forced an error from his opponent.
Auger-Aliassime then rallied to level the tie.
In a tense finale, Nadal converted the sixth of 22 break points he had carved out to lead 5-3 and held his nerve to claim his 109th victory at Roland Garros.
Djokovic also reached the quarter-finals for the 16th time when he eased to a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 victory against 15th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
“It’s a huge challenge and probably the biggest one that you can have here in Roland Garros. I’m ready for it,” said Djokovic of facing his old rival.
Djokovic is still to drop a set at Roland Garros after cruising through the first week.
He has also won 22 sets in a row, stretching back to his Italian Open title triumph in Rome earlier this month.
Auger-Aliassime said he was happy with his performance.
“He raised his level when he needed to. I did what I had to do. He was dictating, aggressive when he needed to and also defending really well,” said the Canadian.
Djokovic or Nadal could face Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals.
On Sunday, the 19-year-old romped into his first French Open quarter-final with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian Karen Khachanov.
“I had a great match from start to finish,” said sixth seed Alcaraz who will face German third seed in the last eight.
The teenager defeated Zverev in the Madrid Masters final earlier this month after also knocking out Djokovic and Nadal.
It was a second successive straight-sets win for Alcaraz after saving a match point when winning a second-round thriller against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Alcaraz is the youngest man in the last eight since Djokovic in 2006.
Zverev reached the quarter-finals for the fourth time by ending Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles’ run in a 7-6 (13/11), 7-5, 6-3 victory.