Novak Djokovic ties Roger Federer record at French Open

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PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic equaled Roger Federer’s mark of reaching nine consecutive quarterfinals at Roland Garros by beating No. 30 seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

It’s also Djokovic’s 12th career trip to the round of eight in Paris, a record for the 50-year professional era. Djokovic advanced to his 40th Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Rafael Nadal can pull even with a 12th French Open quarterfinal, too, by winning on Monday.

The straightforward victory for 2016 French Open champion Djokovic was his 200th career tour-level win on clay. He’ll play unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in the quarterfinals. Cecchinato, who came into the French Open without a Grand Slam main-draw victory, upset No. 8 David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday.

No. 2 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Dominic Thiem will play in the other bottom-half quarterfinal after fourth-round wins Sunday.

In the women’s draw, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and runner-up Madison Keys each made her first French Open quarterfinal.

The two young Americans are friends who have known each other for about a decade. They’re Fed Cup and Olympic teammates.

The 10th-seeded Stephens was a 6-2, 6-0 winner against No. 25 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in 52 minutes, while No. 13 Keys beat No. 31 Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1, 6-4 in 65 minutes.

If Stephens, 23, and Keys, 25, each picks up one more victory, they will face off for a berth in the championship match.

“I always want to see Sloane do well,” Keys said. “I’d love for both of us to be able to be in the position to play each other multiple times. … I’m always cheering for her.”

Stephens monitors her pal’s progress, too.

“I mean, she’s, like, really the only person I actually watch, because I will be texting her during the match: ’Come on! What are you doing?’” Stephens joked. “She’s been playing well. Obviously in a Slam, she really gets up, so she’s going to make whoever she plays, play. And I think that’s what’s great about Maddie.”

Next up for Keys, a powerful hitter who hasn’t always loved playing on red clay, is a match against 98th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Putintseva eliminated No. 26 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday.

Stephens’ quarterfinal opponent will be No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, the reigning Australian Open champion, or No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russia. Kasatkina led 7-6 (5), 3-3 when play was stopped because of darkness.

Both Keys and Stephens have now managed to complete a set of quarterfinal runs at all four Grand Slam sites.

Stephens has a scrambling ability to extend points that works well on clay; it’s just that she had been 0-4 in the fourth round at Roland Garros until Sunday.

Keys’ big-hitting style makes her more of a natural fit on hard courts.

“Even though it’s still not my favorite surface, I definitely feel more comfortable on it. I feel like this year, especially, I have been finding the balance of being a little bit more patient, but also playing my game, whereas before, I feel like I would go too far one way,” Keys explained. “That’s the biggest thing: just remembering how I like to play tennis, but just maybe adding a couple more shots to each rally.”

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FRENCH OPEN: TV/Stream Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw (PDF) | Women’s Draw