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Forget Paris: Djokovic takes a day off as walkover seals Roland Garros semi-final spot

Fabio Fognini injured a muscle in his left leg while beating Albert Montanes yesterday, meaning the game’s in-form man is into the last four without breaking sweat.

Li Na marched on earlier today.
Li Na marched on earlier today.
Image: Lionel Cironneau/AP/Press Association Images

NOVAK DJOKOIC HAD a successful day off from tennis today, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open when his quarter-final opponent withdrew because of injury.

Fabio Fognini, who injured a muscle in his left leg while beating Albert Montanes on Sunday, announced earlier that he would not be able to play Djokovic, who is 41-0 in 2011 and has won 43 straight matches overall.

“Walkover from Fognini. Bad luck for him, hope he recovers fast. Today i get to enjoy Paris in a different way :-)” Djokovic wrote on Twitter.

What does it mean for the Serb’s winning run? As Action81 explain: “Walkovers don’t count towards the streak. Djokovic can at best reach 45 in a row by end of tournament. Record is 46.”

Djokovic’s next match could be against 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

Australian Open runner-up Li Na also advanced today. The sixth-seeded Chinese player reached the quarterfinals by beating No. 9 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Later, top-ranked Rafael Nadal is scheduled to face Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia in the fourth round, while No. 4 Andy Murray is to play Viktor Troicki of Serbia. Maria Sharapova is also scheduled to play for a spot in the quarterfinals.

If Djokovic wins his semifinal match, he would equal John McEnroe’s Open era record for the best start to a tennis season and clinch the No. 1 ranking. With three more wins, the second-seeded Serb will match the record of 46 straight wins set by Guillermo Vilas.

The two-time Australian Open champion has never won the title at Roland Garros, but he beat Nadal in two clay-court finals leading up to the French Open.

Federer will have to beat either No. 7 David Ferrer or No. 9 Gael Monfils to advance to the semifinals.

Li became the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros with her victory over Kvitova. She will next face either No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

Champions’ run

Despite another high-seeded departure at the tournament, the past two champions at Roland Garros made their way into the quarterfinals today.

No. 3 Vera Zvonareva followed top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters out of the tournament Sunday after losing to 19-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2. But defending champion Francesca Schiavone advanced along with the 2009 winner, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“We will see,” said Schiavone, who defeated No. 10 Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and repeated her celebration from last year by dropping to the ground and kissing the red dirt. “For sure it’s interesting, but in (women’s) tennis now, it’s really, really open.”

It is only the third time that none of the top three seeded women has reached the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968, and the first time at Roland Garros.

- additional reporting AP

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