The two highest-profile players in the men’s singles competition with reigning champion Rafael Nadal absent through injury and second seed Daniil Medvedev already toppled are in the same half of the draw at Roland Garros, and on track to meet in a blockbuster semi-final, provided they don’t suffer any surprise exits along the way.
And there was no chance of any such shocks again on Sunday, with world No1 Alcaraz blasting his way past Italian Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets 6-3 6-2 6-2, following up on earlier victories over Flavio Cobolli, Taro Daniel and Denis Shapovalov in which he dropped only one set.
Up next is Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek fifth seed who proved much too strong for Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.
“I had a high quality of shots, I played really aggressive and he played a complete match from the first point to the last so I’m happy to be through to the next round,” said 20-year-old sensation Alcaraz, looking to win his second Grand Slam title having triumphed at last year’s US Open.
“I try not to think about being world number one or the pressure. All these thoughts, I keep them out of my mind. I just want to enjoy myself, entertain the crowd, and smile. This is the key to everything.”
Earlier in the afternoon on Philippe-Chatrier court, Djokovic had already surpassed the absent Nadal by reaching a record 17th French Open quarter-final.
The Serbian eased past Peruvian world No94 Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3 6-2 6-2 to keep alive his hopes of a 23rd Grand Slam singles title that would give him the outright lead over rival Nadal, with Karen Khachanov up next after the latter overcame Lorenzo Sonego in a four-setter.
“I’m proud of it, but my attention is already on the next match,” Djokovic said of the record, having already seen off Aleksandar Kovacevic, Marton Fucsovics and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Paris this week. “Obviously quarter-finals, Khachanov, I know what my goal is here. I’m trying to stay mentally the course and of course not look too far.
“Obviously the performance of today gives me a great deal of confidence about how I felt, about how I played. So I’m looking forward to the next match.”
Elsewhere at the French Open on Sunday, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina ousted women’s ninth seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia to reach the quarter-finals and equal her best performance to date at Roland Garros.
She faces a daunting challenge next against world No2 and reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, who saw off the challenge of Sloane Stephens in straight sets in the headline match of the evening session.
Karolina Muchova beat Elina Avanesyan, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova bounced back from an early deficit to knock out 28th seed Elise Mertens.