Paris – Novak Djokovic had 100 million reasons to celebrate reaching the French Open quarterfinals on Wednesday — 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 $100 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 check is a far cry from the real prize Djokovic has his eyes on this week.
What he desperately wants is to get his hands on 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.
With only two hours of play possible over the previous two days as Parisians were 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.
Hence it was little surprise they were all in a hurry to play catch-up on Wednesday.
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.
However, one person who was there to witness the champion’s 6-1, 6-1 walloping of Svitolina 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, Wednesday’s match ended with the two players sharing a joke and a warm handshake at the net.
However, there will be no Williams family reunion at Roland Garros this year after Timea Bacsinszky ambushed Serena’s elder sister Venus 6-2, 6-4.
Venus arrived for her match on Suzanne Lenglen Court looking more like a winter sport athlete than someone about to play a tennis match on June 1 — 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 2-0 down in the first set and kept up the run to dash dreams of a possible semifinal showdown for the most celebrated sisters in sport.
She will next face Dutch outsider Kiki Bertens after she downed American 15th seed Madison Keys 7-6(7-4), 6-3.
Serena will face another unexpected quarterfinalist in the shape of Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, who beat Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.