PARIS - Less than 48 hours after learning of the death of his childhood coach, Novak Djokovic was on court at the French Open, determined to complete a career Grand Slam in honor of the woman he likened to a "second mother."
Still grieving, Djokovic began shakily yesterday.
Six of the match's first seven unforced errors were his. But he went on to defeat 16th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and reach the quarterfinals at a 16th consecutive major tournament.
The top-seeded Djokovic spoke from the heart about the passing of Jelena Gencic, who was 76.
"It hasn't been easy, but this is life. You know, life gives you things [but also] takes away close people," Djokovic said. "We were very close throughout my whole life, and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character."
Djokovic will play 12th-seeded Tommy Haas, who at 35 became the oldest French Open quarterfinalist since 1971 by beating unseeded Mikhail Youzhny, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
In other men's fourth-round matches, defending champion Rafael Nadal, the third seed, defeated No. 13 Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, and ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka rallied to defeat No. 7 Richard Gasquet, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6.
In women's fourth-round matches, defending champion Maria Sharapova, the second seed, defeated 17th-seeded Sloane Stephens, 6-4, 6-3. Jelena Jankovic, the No. 18-seed, defeated unseeded Jamie Hampton, 6-0, 6-2. Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka dispatched unseeded Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-0. And, unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands was beaten by 12th-seeded Maria Kirilenko, 7-5, 6-4.