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Improved Thiem ready to take final steps

Rafael Nadal French Open Alexander Zverev

These hurdles have finally been overcome, but Zverev has had to dig deep.

Thiem showed no mercy as he continued to dominate, racing into a 4-0 lead in a flash in the third set by mixing up his game expertly.

"I'm young, so I might as well stay on court and practise a little bit", Zverev said.

"Me and my brother (Mischa) are guys that spend three, four hours a day in the gym, lifting heavy weights, on the treadmill". The German has won 34 tour-level matches this season, more than any other player in 2018 and one more than his nearest rival Thiem. "I'll get myself ready", Zverev said.

"I knew I'm not going to win the match".

However, despite four wins in the last week here in Paris, Zverev's hold/break numbers have taken a hit - tight wins for a top player will do that - and it's now Thiem with the slight edge, particularly on serve.

For the former champion, though, it was not to be as he came up against the unseeded Marco Cecchinato in blistering form, and lost a gruelling and highly intense four-setter, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (11).

Djokovic eased past Spanish veteran Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 and will play in the last eight at Roland Garros for a record 12th time.

The 98th-ranked Putintseva was trying to become the first player from Kazakhstan to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal.

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A double break took the 24-year-old Austrian to 4-1 in the second set before Zverev needed a medical timeout for a leg injury.

"I think that's the matchup most of the fans in Germany and Austria were hoping for when they saw the draw", he said."He's an wonderful player".

When the match ended on court Suzanne-Lenglen, Zverev sunk to his knees with arms outstretched. He then patted Khachanov, a friend from their junior days, sympathetically on the chest before pumping his arms in celebration. The 13th seed raced through the opening set in just 23 minutes and while Buzarnescu produced more resistance in the second set, Keys was rarely troubled.

Yet here he is, earning the right to face Djokovic for a spot in the semifinals at Roland Garros by eliminating the No. 8-seeded David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday.

"I really just had to focus because Yulia was playing so well, I knew I just had to make a few more balls", said Keys, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament. An ace gave him another set point but he missed that one, too, putting a low volley into the net.

Djokovic saved three match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker before his 72nd-ranked rival converted his fourth with a backhand return victor.

Khachanov had some chances in the second and again late in the match, but his forehand let him down. "If you beat me in the end you're better than me, but I'm going to take you the whole way.' If he does that Thiem is the favourite", said Wilander. "Hopefully big things can happen here".

(10) Sloane Stephens bt. He scored a third consecutive five set victory by defeating Karen Khachanov 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-3 6-3.

But marathon woman Caroline Wozniacki - she finished the New York City Marathon in 2014 - trailed Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (7-5) 3-3 when darkness halted proceedings at around 9:20 p.m. Paris time.

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