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‘Cactus’ Djokovic eyes 13th Roland Garros quarter-final

Novak Djokovic is bidding for a place in the last-eight for the 13th time © AFP / Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

PARIS, France, Jun 3Top seed Novak Djokovic bids to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the 13th time on Monday while 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova looks to capitalise on a star-stripped women’s draw to make the last-eight.

AFP Sport looks at three last-16 matches to watch at the French Open on Monday:

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 1-0

— World number one Djokovic, bidding to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice, faces world number 45 Struff.

In the last-16 for the 10th consecutive year in Paris, Djokovic faces an in-form Struff who defeated 13th seeded Borna Coric 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 11-9 in the third round.

Former Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander said Saturday that had Djokovic played in a different era, he would have won many more Slams than his current 15.

The Swede said that Djokovic’s career record was forged on having to face ‘cactus’ players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who in turn had played only against ‘lilies’.

“I don’t know what to say. I have never played or fought against cactus in my life, so when I do that, if I get a chance, then I will answer your question,” said the Serb.

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Struff, 29, who is ranked 45 in the world, is in the last 16 of a Slam for the first time.

Fabio Fognini (ITA x9) v Alexander Zverev (GER x5)

Head-to-head: Zverev leads 2-1

Italy’s Fabio Fognini has played three successive four-setters to get this far in Paris © AFP / Martin BUREAU

— Zverev, a quarter-finalist in 2018, has needed two five-setters to reach the last-16 and was defeated by colourful Italian Fognini on clay in Monte Carlo in the run-up to the French Open.

Fognini won a maiden Masters title in the principality and has played three successive four-setters to get this far in Paris.

The Italian, who is wearing different coloured shoes at the French Open, made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2011 but had to concede a walkover to Djokovic.

Amanda Anisimova (USA) v Aliona Bolsova (ESP)

Head-to-head: First meeting

— Just 17 years old, Anisimova is the youngest woman to play in the last-16 in Paris since Martina Hingis in 1998.

Amanda Anisimova of the US is the youngest woman to play in the last-16 in Paris since Martina Hingis in 1998 © AFP / Thomas SAMSON

But this is hardly new territory for the world number 51 who also made the fourth round at the Australian Open in January.

In a section of the draw from which Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams have already exited, Spain’s world 137 Bolsova is enjoying a breakthrough debut tournament.

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She came through qualifying but should she go on and book an unlikely place in the final on Saturday, she will face a dilemma.

That is the day she is scheduled to sit university exams in Barcelona where she is studying history of art.

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