Djokovic into French Open quarterfinals after five-set thriller

Tokyo, 4 June, /AJMEDIA/

Novak Djokovic pulled off another astonishing escape as he beat Argentine 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo in a five-set thriller to reach a 15th consecutive French Open quarterfinal on Monday.

The world number one shrugged off an injury to his right knee as he came from two sets to one down to outlast Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 after four hours and 39 minutes.

Victory gave him a record 370th Grand Slam win, eclipsing the mark he had shared with Roger Federer.

“Three or four times I was points away from losing this match and thank you to my opponent,” he said. “He deserves so much applause that’s for sure. I’m not sure how I won this match again.

Djokovic will play Casper Ruud, the player he beat in last year’s final. Ruud continued his bid to reach a third straight French Open final with a four-set victory over American Taylor Fritz.

The Norwegian seventh seed, who lost last year’s showpiece match to Djokovic and the 2022 final to Rafael Nadal, battled past world number 12 Fritz 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The 37-year-old Djokovic, coming off a five-set match in the third round that ended at 3.07am on Sunday morning, repeatedly received treatment for an injury to his knee after taking a medical timeout early in the second set.

But he once more displayed his immense powers of recovery, crucially retrieving a break in the fourth set to stay on course for a fourth French Open crown.

Djokovic rolled through the opening set against Cerundolo on the back of two service breaks, but his problems arose in the second as he summoned the trainer.

The Serbian had his knee worked on while lying flat on his back on a towel, and immediately found himself under pressure once play resumed.

After failing to convert any of seven break points over three different games, Cerundolo finally seized his chance with Djokovic serving to stay in the set.

Djokovic steered a forehand wide to hand Cerundolo the second set and the 25-year-old carried that momentum in the third as he surged into a 3-0 lead.

The Serbian had complained about the state of the clay in his previous match against Lorenzo Musetti.

Blaming the court for “screwing up” his knee, Djokovic again pleaded in vain for the clay to be swept at more regular intervals.

Djokovic appeared consigned to the fact he would need to go the distance again, just as he did against Musetti, as Cerundolo closed out the third set with ease.

Daniil Medvedev suffered a four-set loss to Australia’s Alex de Minaur as his disappointing record at Roland Garros continued.

The Russian fifth seed, a former US Open champion and six-time Grand Slam finalist, started strongly but slipped to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 defeat.

De Minaur will face either Alexander Zverev or Holger Rune in his second Slam quarterfinal .

Aryna Sabalenka powered into a seventh consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over American 22nd seed Emma Navarro.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka belted 36 winners past an overmatched Navarro to avenge her defeat by the 23-year-old at Indian Wells in March.

Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva became the youngest player to reach the women’s quarterfinals at the French Open since 2005 by defeating home hope Varvara Gracheva.

Andreeva downed Moscow-born Gracheva 7-5, 6-2 at Roland Garros to book a last-eight spot at a Grand Slam for the first time.

© 2024 AFP

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