Djokovic was roundly jeered as he walked onto Court Suzanne-Lenglen for his last-16 match, with the world No 1 continuing to prove a divisive figure. It didn’t affect his play though, prevailing 6-1 6-3 6-3.
It sets up an enticing quarter-final with long-time rival Rafael Nadal, with both icons in no need of motivation. Djokovic beat Nadal at the semi-final stage in Roland Garros last year, before going on to claim the title for the second time after a thrilling final with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
However, it was Nadal who became the first player in history to reach 21 Grand Slam wins, following his remarkable triumph at the Australian Open this year. Djokovic meanwhile, missed the tournament following an explosive visa sage that saw him deported home a day before the event began.
Public opinion on the Serbian was very much split during what became a legal wrangling, and sure enough, there’s little chance of him being the crowd favourite when he faces Nadal next week. But judging by his actions against Schwartzman, he’s happy to embrace being the pantomime villain.
He was already two sets up when he produced a sublime moment, somehow sliding to reach a drop shot and then executing one of his own. And it proved a winner with his opponent grounded.
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Prior to that, spectators had taunted the top seed with chants of ‘Diego, Diego’, as well as boos. After winning the point, Djokovic offered a riposte, putting his hand to his ear.
Eurosport commentator Chris Bradnam said: “That was amazing! [The crowd] can’t help themselves but applaud the excellence of this… look at that! Yeah, finger to the ear – ‘Come on then!’ – and they did support it.”
It isn’t the first time that Djokovic has had to battle against the tide when it comes to crowd support. At last year’s US Open he was jeered en route to the final, before eventually being applauded in his defeat to Daniil Medveev.
Nadal meanwhile, didn’t enjoy anything like the comfortable win that Djokovic did. The Spaniard, a 13-time champion in Paris, needed five sets to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime.
He came through a huge battle 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3, getting the crucial break in the eighth game of the deciding set. And it capped off quite a weekend for the man from Mallorca.
On Saturday night, he was in the Stade de France to watch his beloved Real Madrid in the Champions League final. He wasn’t disappointed, with Real beating Liverpool 1-0 to be crowned European champions for the 14th time.