Novak Djokovic Shines in Marathon French Open Victory

Novak Djokovic overcame Argentine Francisco Cerundolo in a grueling five-set match to advance to the French Open quarter-finals. Despite a knee issue, Djokovic showed resilience, claiming his 370th victory in major tournaments, surpassing Roger Federer. His triumph highlights his pursuit of a 25th Grand Slam title.

Reuters | Updated: 04-06-2024 01:34 IST | Created: 04-06-2024 01:34 IST
Novak Djokovic Shines in Marathon French Open Victory
Novak Djokovic

Defending champion Novak Djokovic produced a superhuman effort to subdue Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 6-1 5-7 3-6 7-5 6-3 on Monday and reach the quarter-finals of the French Open, as the top seed shrugged off a knee issue for a milestone win.

Big-hitting women's title contenders made short work of their opponents earlier as second seed Aryna Sabalenka thrashed American Emma Navarro 6-2 6-3 while fourth seed Elena Rybakina eased to a 6-4 6-3 victory over Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. Russian 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva then outclassed former compatriot and newly-French Varvara Gracheva 7-5 6-2 to end home hopes in the afternoon, but all eyes were on a potential upset that was brewing on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, who is chasing a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title was taken to five sets for the second time in less than 48 hours but showed his class to seal a record 370th match victory at the majors that broke a tie with retired Swiss great Roger Federer. The Serb also celebrated reaching his 59th major quarter-final - the most by any men's player - to eclipse his long-time rival Federer again, while an 11th five-sets Roland Garros win tied him with Gael Monfils and Stan Wawrinka in the Open Era.

"Again a big, big, big thank you because once again like the last match. The win is your win," an exhausted Djokovic told the crowd in fluent French. But Djokovic's title rivals in Paris will be smelling blood after another up-and-down display.

The 37-year-old showed no early signs of fatigue from his marathon third-round win over Lorenzo Musetti, a 4-1/2 hour epic that ended in the early hours of Sunday morning, as he blitzed claycourt specialist Cerundolo in the opening set. He sustained a right knee issue early in the next and needed treatment on court before saving four break points to draw level at 3-3 with a backhand bullet, but allowed his opponent a way back in by surrendering his serve in the 12th game.

Cerundolo grabbed another break early in the next set to go 3-0 up and comfortably got ahead in the clash as alarm bells began to ring for Djokovic in a second straight match at the claycourt Grand Slam he has won three times. The finish line seemed to appear in sight for Cerundolo when he raced up 4-2 in the next set, but the 25-year-old squandered the advantage as Djokovic sent down two big serves and produced a spectacular drop en route to holding for 6-5 before levelling the contest.

Having dropped serve after a fast start in the deciding set, Djokovic took a nasty tumble during a point and ranted about the state of the Court Philippe Chatrier surface. He dusted himself off and the smile returned shortly after as he executed a sensational drop volley while doing the splits at 3-3 and celebrated the point by lying on the court with his arms outstretched in a superhero pose.

With the crowd firmly behind him, Djokovic closed out a superb victory and paid tribute to fans on the main showcourt at around 9 p.m local time. Alex de Minaur broke a long Australian jinx as the 11th seed battled from a set down to stun Daniil Medvedev 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-3 and become the first man from his nation in two decades to make the last-eight at Roland Garros.

He plays either fourth seed Alexander Zverev and 13th seed Holger Rune who were in action in the evening session.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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