02 Jun 2023, 09:39

French Open day 6: Three matches to watch

PARIS, June 2, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Novak Djokovic continues his bid for a men's
record 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the French Open on Friday, while
Carlos Alcaraz faces Denis Shapovalov in the third round.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look ahead at three stand-out matches on the sixth
day of the 2023 tournament (x denotes seeded player):

Novak Djokovic (SRB x3) v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP x29)

Djokovic returns to Court Philippe Chatrier as he bids to reach the last 16
for a 21st consecutive Grand Slam tournament.

The Serb has made headlines for his comments about Kosovo this week but will
be hoping his progress on court remains serene after two straight-sets wins
so far.

Davidovich Fokina will likely provide a sterner test, though. The Spaniard
has slipped to number 34 in the world rankings this season but was runner-up
at the clay-court Monte Carlo Masters last year.

But two-time champion Djokovic, who has reached the French Open quarter-
finals in each of the past 13 years, will be the red-hot favourite.

The 36-year-old is hoping to break out of his tie with injured rival Rafael
Nadal at the top of the men's all-time list of major winners.

He is just one title behind Serena Williams' mark of 23 Slams and two adrift
of Margaret Court's overall record.

Djokovic has won two of his three matches with Davidovich Fokina, but lost
their last meeting in Monte Carlo 12 months ago.

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP x1) v Denis Shapovalov (CAN x26)

The world number one came into the tournament as favourite for the title and
has sparkled so far in his first two matches against opponents ranked outside
the top 100.

Shapovalov is of a far higher calibre, though, despite struggling for form in
recent months.

The Canadian was ranked in the top 10 less than two years ago and was a
Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2021.

Shapovalov is a big admirer of Alcaraz, who is bidding for a second straight
Slam title after winning the 2022 US Open and missing this year's Australian
Open with injury.

"I think he's a great guy. He's super humble for achieving what he has at
such a young age," said the 24-year-old ahead of their night-session

"You can see how much he enjoys being on the court."

Anna Blinkova v Elina Svitolina (UKR)

Ukrainian star Svitolina has impressed by reaching the third round on her
first Grand Slam appearance since the 2022 Australian Open.

She is now on a seven-match winning run after also winning the title in
Strasbourg last week, beating Blinkova in the final.

Svitolina refused to shake her Russian opponent's hand after that match and
will likely repeat that stance on Friday.

Her compatriot Marta Kostyuk was surprisingly booed by the French crowd after
her defeat by Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka.

"I feel mixture of different feelings, but they are bad feelings," Svitolina
said about the ongoing war in Ukraine after her second-round win over Storm

"They are anger, they are sadness, just heaviness. It's like this heaviness
that I have on a daily basis, and all Ukrainians have. You cannot escape from

Former world number three Svitolina is currently ranked 192nd, but was
outside the top 1,000 less than a month ago.

Married to French tennis star Gael Monfils, she recently returned from
maternity leave, having previously taken a break from the sport due to health
problems and mental exhaustion following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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