Djokovic on verge of $100 million breakthrough

  • AFP, Paris
  • Updated: May 30, 2016 11:51 IST
Djokovic returns a shot against Aljaz Bedene. (Reuters)

World number one Novak Djokovic is poised to become the first man to win $100 million (around Rs 672 crore) in prize money on Monday when he targets a place in the French Open quarter-finals for the 10th time.

Djokovic, chasing a first Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam, tackles Spain’s 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

The top seeded Serb has a 4-0 career lead over the 28-year-old Bautista Agut including a victory on clay in Madrid this season where the Spaniard won just three games.

Djokovic is also bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the 28th straight Grand Slam and take sole occupancy of second place ahead of Jimmy Connors for the most consecutive last-eight appearances at the majors.

With $99,673,404 banked in prize money at the start of Roland Garros, the 29-year-old Djokovic can cross the $100-million barrier by making the last-eight.

A place in the quarter-finals is worth 294,000 euros ($326,722) and that will just take the Serb into the $100,000,000 bracket.

Roger Federer is Djokovic’s closest rival in the prize money stakes on $98,011,727 but the Swiss is sitting out Roland Garros through injury.

“I know that the top four guys (himself, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray) that have been dominating the tour and winning most of the major titles in the last 10 years or so will not stay there forever,” cautioned Djokovic.

“New generations are coming up, and you can see already guys like Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric, Nick Kyrgios establishing themselves in the very top of the men’s game.

“Can definitely expect to see those faces more in the future. How quick they can actually get to the top four of the world, it’s a process. It’s not like that’s going to happen overnight or over two, three months.

“They need to play very well and consistently well and stay healthy throughout the entire year in order to challenge the top spots. Let’s see if they can do that.”

Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych and former runner-up David Ferrer, the 11th seeded Spaniard, also meet Monday.

Ferrer leads their 12-year rivalry 8-6 though Berdych won the pair’s most recent clash on clay in Madrid.

Belgian 12th seed David Goffin faces unpredictable Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a semi-finalist in 2014.

Goffin had never made the last-eight at a Grand Slam while world ranked 80 Gulbis has won six of his last seven meetings with top 20 players at the majors.

Austrian 13th seed Dominic Thiem faces Spain’s Marcel Granollers with both men trying to make the last eight of a Slam for the first time.

Granollers reached the last-16 without hitting a ball when nine-time champion Nadal pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury.

In the women’s last-16, top seed and defending champion Serena Williams continues her bid for a record-equalling Open era 22nd Grand Slam title.

The 34-year-old takes on Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina who is being advised in Paris by Justine Henin, one of Williams’ former great rivals on the tour and a four-time French Open champion.

“That doesn’t really matter. It’s just really about going out there and playing your best,” said Williams, shrugging off the Henin connection.

Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro faces unseeded Yulia Putintseva also on Monday.

In-form Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who knocked out Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in the first round, faces America’s Madison Keys, the 15th seed.

Venus Williams, who was runner-up to sister Serena in 2002, faces Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky, a semi-finalist last year.

Also Monday, two fourth round ties that were suspended when heavy rain started to fall late Sunday evening will be completed.

Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska was 6-2, 3-0 up on Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova and sixth seed Simona Halep of Romania was leading Australian veteran Samantha Stosur 5-3.

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