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Djokovic, Federer on collision course

Li Na of China serves to Cirstea of Romania during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris
Li Na of China serves to Cirstea of Romania during the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris

By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic produced an unforgettable performance with the racket and the microphone and Roger Federer also strolled into the French Open quarter-finals on Sunday.

World number two Djokovic extended his unbeaten run to 41 matches this year as the Serb crushed 13th seed Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-4 6-2.

Djokovic will next face Italian Fabio Fognini, who came out on top in a four-hour-22-minute, five-set battle with Spain's Albert Montanes.

After Djokovic had showed off his devastating racket-wielding powers, the man known as The Joker on tour chose to entertain the Center Court crowd further.

With the spectators appearing to misunderstand one of his routine answers, he decided to take matters into his own hands by grabbing the microphone off his interviewer and quizzing the fans in French.

"Eh, everybody, what happened?," he said, triggering roars of laughter.

Should Djokovic beat Fognini he would equal John McEnroe's 42-0 record since the start of the year and set up a possible semi-final showdown with Federer.

Federer, a 16-times grand slam champion, appeared to be floating through air in a 6-3 6-2 7-5 thrashing of fellow Swiss Wawrinka as he produced some delectable shots to delight the packed crowd.

Barely anyone noticed, however, as women's third seed Vera Zvonareva made an early exit.

Zvonareva had to play in front of rows of empty seats on Court Philippe Chatrier as she was knocked out by fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-6 2-6 6-2 in a forgettable fourth-round match.

The 14th seeded Pavlyuchenkova, at 19 the youngest woman left in the draw, reached her first grand slam quarter-final after winning a match litted with unforced errors.

NOT ACCEPTABLE

She will meet champion Francesca Schiavone, who fought off three-times French Open semi-finalist Jelena Jankovic 6-3 2-6 6-4.

The Italian fifth seed, who kissed her beloved Roland Garros clay after a two-hour 38-minute tussle, showed more tactical abilities than the Serbian 10th seed.

Zvonareva summed up the gloom surrounding women's tennis at this year's French Open, where none of the top three seeds reached the last eight for the first time since the sport turned professional in 1968.

"It's not acceptable at this stage of the grand slam," she said.

Gasquet could do nothing against Djokovic.

The Serb was in a class of his own, barely blinking as Gasquet unleashed a series of trademark sizzling backhands.

"I'm definitely playing the best tennis of my life," said Djokovic.

"I had two important breaks in the first sets. I played a great match."

Federer, the 2009 champion, barely put a foot wrong on the key points against Wawrinka and wrapped up victory on a sunsoaked court in less than two hours.

Federer, who had fans leaping to their feet following a jaw-dropping sliced backhand passing shot down the line, came through a sticky patch when he conceded an early break in the third set but he kept cool to win six of the next seven games.

Federer, whose run of reaching 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals was ended by Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals in Paris 12 months ago, has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Next up for him will be either Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer or ninth seed Gael Monfils, whose baseline contest was interrupted due to bad light with the Frenchman leading 6-4 2-6 7-5 0-2.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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