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Novak Djokovic outlasts Francisco Cerundolo to advance at Roland-Garros



Novak Djokovic outlasts Francisco Cerundolo to advance at Roland-Garros

PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic was laying on his again on a French Open sideline early within the second set Monday, wincing whereas his injured proper knee was manipulated by a coach — and worrying that he would possibly have to give up enjoying the match.

After stumbling and limping round, then discovering himself down by a set and a break in opposition to a youthful, keen opponent, Djokovic regained his verve with the assistance of what he stated a match physician instructed him was the utmost dose of drugs allowed to boring the ache and cut back any irritation.

So, sure, Djokovic stored at it and got here again to win in 5 units throughout about 4 1/2 hours for the second consecutive time, surging previous No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 within the fourth spherical at Roland Garros for his document 370th win in a Grand Slam match. However here is the catch: Djokovic stated he couldn’t be sure whether or not he could be wholesome sufficient to play within the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what’s going to occur tomorrow — or after tomorrow, if I’ll be capable of step out on the courtroom and play,” the 37-year-old Djokovic stated. “You already know, I hope so. Let’s see what occurs.”

Djokovic stated the knee has bothered him for a few weeks, chalking it as much as put on and tear, and it received worse after he tweaked it in opposition to Cerundolo. Djokovic took a medical timeout at 2-1 within the second set, was handled by the coach on subsequent changeovers, and was given extra medication after the third set.

“I didn’t know, to be trustworthy,” Djokovic stated, “whether or not I ought to proceed or not.”

Ultimately, he felt higher and will transfer with out restrictions, and his stage of play soared accordingly.

This was the second consecutive five-set comeback victory that lasted about 4 1/2 hours for Djokovic, who’s ranked No. 1 and the defending champion in Paris. He stated that accumulation of time was not an issue; his knee was, nonetheless.

Djokovic is meant to satisfy No. 7 seed Casper Ruud on Wednesday. Ruud, who eradicated No. 12 Taylor Fritz 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 Monday, misplaced to Djokovic within the French Open closing final yr and to Rafael Nadal within the 2022 title match.

“The impact of the drugs won’t final for too lengthy, so I’ll see,” Djokovic stated. “I suppose we’ll do some extra screening and checks and checkups tomorrow.”

The questions on his standing took consideration away from the newest within the lengthy sequence of Djokovic’s monumental achievements. Beating Cerundolo allowed Djokovic to interrupt a tie with Roger Federer for essentially the most match wins at main tournaments — and likewise for essentially the most Slam quarterfinals for a person, reaching the 59th of his profession.

However simply barely. Djokovic trailed by two units to at least one, and was down a break at 4-2 within the fourth, placing him two video games from defeat.

“I used to be,” Djokovic stated afterward, “possibly three or 4 factors away from shedding this match.”

Nonetheless, he got here by means of in methods he has so usually over his years of dominance and 24 main trophies, a complete that features three on the French Open. He each rotated a contest after trailing — go forward and ask Federer about holding match factors in opposition to the man — and rising when the strain is best. Djokovic is 40-11 in fifth units over his profession; evaluate that with Cerundolo’s 1-3 mark, and the end result ought to shock nobody.

“Actually, the hardest man ever to play tennis,” Cerundolo stated. “He at all times finds a strategy to come again and play his finest tennis on the hardest moments and on the finish of each match.”

At 2-1 within the crucible of the fifth set, Djokovic’s ft gave manner as he chased a ball to his proper, and he rolled on the bottom, caking his white shorts, his crimson shirt and elements of his legs and arms with the rust-colored clay. As he walked to the sideline to seize a bottle of water to wash off, he gave a chunk of his thoughts to anybody who would pay attention, renewing an earlier grievance about wanting the courtroom to be swept to enhance traction.

“Properly performed, supervisor and everyone,” Djokovic stated, his voice drenched in sarcasm. “Not slippery in any respect.”

At his information convention, he restated his issues and his disappointment within the choice to not do extra concerning the clay.

“I imply, as we speak I injured myself. Sure, I survived. I gained the match. Nice. However will I be capable of play subsequent one?” he stated, tapping his palms on a desk for emphasis. “I don’t know. I don’t know the severity of the harm. However may have this harm be prevented? Probably, if there was just a bit bit extra of a frequent care of the courtroom in the course of the set.”

Within the third spherical, he made his well past No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti, a 22-year-old from Italy, ending Sunday after 3 a.m., the newest end in French Open historical past.

Towards Cerundolo, a 25-year-old from Argentina who was making an attempt to succeed in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Djokovic once more used all of his abilities, expertise and skill to regulate on the fly. He got here by means of, partly, by placing further pace on his groundstrokes.

From 3-all within the fifth, Djokovic grabbed each remaining sport. That included breaking to guide 5-3 with a forehand winner that caught the baseline — so near being out that chair umpire Aurélie Tourte climbed right down to test.

The opposite males’s quarterfinal Wednesday shall be Alex de Minaur, who beat 2021 U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev, in opposition to Alexander Zverev, a 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-2 winner in opposition to Holger Rune in a match that ended at 1:40 a.m. on Tuesday.

The ladies’s quarterfinals on Wednesday: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Mirra Andreeva, and Elena Rybakina vs. Jasmine Paolini.

With temperatures topping 70 levels Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) after a match of chillier climate and loads of rain — a shift in circumstances that Djokovic thought affected the quantity of clay on the enjoying floor — the azure sky was seen, lastly, as Djokovic and Cerundolo started within the late afternoon.

Djokovic’s comeback actually started within the night, at 4-3 within the fourth, when he smacked a winner to earn a break level — to not point out roars from the stands — and transformed when Cerundolo netted a shot. Djokovic shook his racket overhead, and a chant of his two-syllable nickname rang out, “No-le! No-le!”

He arrived in Paris with only a 14-6 document in 2024 and never one look in a match closing, not to mention a title. Certain, he’s been residing on the sting to date on the French Open — his previous two matches required 9 hours, 8 minutes over 10 units — however nobody ever has been pretty much as good as Djokovic at Slam time. As long as he can play in any respect, that’s.


AP Sports activities Author Jerome Pugmire and Related Press author Tom Nouvian contributed to this report.


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