French Open

Tennis: Djokovic is tennis' first $100-million man

Novak Djokovic of Serbia borrows a rain hat from his interviewer, the former player Fabrice Santoro, after taking three days of play to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the round of 16 at the French Open. Turbulent weather in Paris has create
Novak Djokovic of Serbia borrows a rain hat from his interviewer, the former player Fabrice Santoro, after taking three days of play to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the round of 16 at the French Open. Turbulent weather in Paris has created a significant backlog of matches to be cleared.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, 21, beat 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, 21, beat 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Djokovic cashes in and stays on course to claim only Grand Slam he has not won

PARIS • Novak Djokovic had 100 million reasons to celebrate reaching the French Open quarter-finals yesterday - albeit two days later than expected - as players made a mad dash to clear the fourth-round backlog created by the fickle Parisian weather.

The Serbian world No. 1 became the first tennis player to bank US$100 million (S$137.64 million) in prize money after his 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 win over Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut tipped him over the magic number.

However, the fourth-round winner's cheque is a far cry from the real prize Djokovic has his eyes on this week. What he wants is the Musketeers' Cup to complete his Grand Slam collection.

After winning a match that was originally scheduled for Monday, began on Tuesday and was finally completed on Wednesday, the 29-year-old will have to play four days in succession if he is to reach Sunday's title showdown.

"I have the feeling I played three matches against him," a grinning Djokovic told the crowd after donning a yellow rain hat during his victory speech.

If he wins his next match against Tomas Berdych, he could run into 13th seed Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals, after the fast-rising Austrian advanced to his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-4 win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers .

  • Top men's prize money earners

  • •Novak Djokovic (Srb) US$100,000,875

    •Roger Federer (Sui) US$98,011,727

    •Rafael Nadal (Esp) US$78,223,403

    •Andy Murray (Gbr) US$45,484,935

    •Pete Sampras (USA) US$43,280,489

    US$1 = S$1.38

Thiem will play David Goffin next, after the 12th seed became just the second Belgian man (Filip Dewulf was the first) to reach the French Open quarter-finals when he defeated Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

With only two hours of play possible over the previous two days as Paris was hit by monsoon-like showers, the women in top seed Serena Williams' half of the draw had also been left stranded in the fourth round for 48 hours. It was little surprise they were all in a hurry to play catch-up yesterday.

  • RESULTS

  • MEN'S 4TH ROUND

    Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Roberto Bautista (Esp) 3-6 6-4 6-1 7-5, Dominic Thiem (Aut) bt Marcel Granollers (Esp) 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-4, David Goffin (Bel) bt Ernests Gulbis (Lat) 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-3, Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt David Ferrer (Esp) 6-3 7-5 6-3.

  • WOMEN'S 4TH ROUND

    Serena Williams (USA) bt Elina Svitolina (Ukr) 6-1 6-1, Yulia Putintseva (Kaz) bt Carla Suarez (Esp) 7-5 7-5, Kiki Bertens (Ned) bt Madison Keys (USA) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, Timea Bacsinszky (Sui) bt Venus Williams (USA) 6-2 6-4.

    Results at press time

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Williams is no stranger to playing in front of capacity crowds but barely a couple of hundred spectators bothered to turn up at the 15,000-seater Philippe Chatrier Court as she began her tussle against 18th seed Elina Svitolina.

One person who was there to witness the champion's 6-1, 6-1 walloping of the Ukrainian was her former on-court rival, four-time champion Justine Henin.

What Henin thought of her charge Svitolina's performance is anyone's guess. But unlike the Belgian's often prickly encounters with Williams, yesterday's match ended with the two players sharing a joke and a handshake at the net.

But there will be no Williams reunion at Roland Garros this year after Timea Bacsinszky ambushed Serena's elder sister Venus 6-2, 6-4.

Venus arrived for her match looking more like a winter sport athlete than someone about to play a tennis match - wearing leggings under her skirt and a long, black quilted jacket zipped up to her neck.

Once the match got going, she failed to warm up sufficiently as Bacsinszky went on an eight-game roll from 0-2 down in the first set and kept it up to dash dreams of a possible semi-final showdown for the most celebrated sisters in sport.

She will face Dutch outsider Kiki Bertens next, who downed the 15th seed Madison Keys 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

World No. 58 Bertens, conqueror of Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the first round, has won 11 straight matches after arriving in Paris fresh from lifting the Nuremberg title as a qualifier.

Serena will face another unexpected quarter-finalist in the shape of Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, who beat Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 7-5.

Putintseva, 21, the youngest player left in the draw, claimed the first set after 72 minutes. She wrapped up victory after Suarez Navarro dropped serve for the sixth time.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Tennis' first $100m man'. Print Edition | Subscribe