By India Today Sports Desk: 22-time Grand Slam champion stormed into the 4th round of French Open for the 14th consecutive year as he battled past a spirited 29th seed in Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina of Spain on Friday, June 2. The Serb was unfazed by boos as he clinched a straight-set victory, for which he was made to work hard for 3 hours and 36 minutes at the Philippe-Chatrier.
Novak Djokovic, who was not the favourite of the two players at the Chatrier, looked shaky in the first two sets as he spent 3 hours on the court, winning back-to-back tie-breakers. However, he pulled ahead in the 3rd set to complete a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 in the men’s singles third round.
At several stages in the match, Djokovic was booed by the Chatrier crowd but the Serb only fired them up in return and focused on the job in hand. Djokovic received the loudest boos when he punched the air to release pressure after winning the 2nd-set tie-breaker.
Djokovic, much like his second-round win over Marton Fucsovics, struggled to close out the opening set against 29th seed Davidovich Fokina, needing 90 minutes to win the tie-breaker. He needed another 77 minutes for the second set as his service game dipped big time.
Davidovich Fokina, who had beaten Djokovic on clay last year, was hitting the big groundstrokes and playing the drop shots to perfection to trouble Djokovic before the Serb raised the bar in the final set. Djokovic’s backhand returns were booming off the ground as the Serb found the mojo to avoid going to the 4th set on Friday.
Djokovic was broken 5 times across the first two sets but he raised his defensive game to prevent Davidovich Fokina to run away with the match.
Revealing that he was, at point in the match, thinking of a 5-hour contest, Djokovic said he was proud of the performance despite not having been in peak form.
“A win is a win. Maybe a bit too much [effort and time], the first two sets. I thought if I lose the second set, we’d probably play five hours today. But you have to be ready. That’s what a grand slam it about âæ it takes a lot of effort âæ I’m proud of the performance today, for sure,” he added.
Djokovic called the trainer onto the court for an apparent left leg issue, sparking fears the injury that accompanied his run to the Australian Open title in January had returned. However, all was well for the Serb who cruised into the fourth round.
Djokovic, who has not been in the best of forms on clay this season, will look to hit peak form a a potential fourth-round clash against 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz awaits him in the 4th round.