Djokovic Edges Musetti in Epic Comeback Match at Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic playing in Monte-Carlo, Principality of Monaco. April 13, 2024. Photo courtesy: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

Three-time Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic surges from two sets down to claim a five-setter epic comeback win over World No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti; ties Roger Federer for most Slam match wins (369), finishing off the latest match in the major history past 3 a.m. on French soil.

World No. 1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic turns around his third-rounder, claiming a 7-5, 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over 30th seed Lorenzo Musetti after four hours and 29 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier finishing at 3:08 a.m.

All-time men’s Grand Slam title leader Djokovic comes from two sets down to secure his spot in the fourth round when 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo awaits him on Monday to play for a place in the last eight.

The Story of an Epic Match

Under the lights on Court Philippe Chatrier, the 24-time Grand Slam champion and the talented young Italian met, aiming to secure a spot in the fourth round at Roland-Garros.

At stake, victory No. 95 at Roland Garros for Djokovic to tie Roger Federer for most Grand Slam match wins in history (369).

Meanwhile, Musetti aims to progress to the fourth round at the French Open for the third time while becoming the third Italian player to defeat world No. 1 this season.

A tight start to the opener would see the No. 30 seed hitting first to convert the break in the third game, earning a 3-1 lead in his fourth Roland Garros appearance.

The lead, however, was short-lived as the Serbian broke straight back to even the scoreboard.

A tense and intense atmosphere kept the players on the edge, holding their ground on serve for most of the set.

From the ninth game to the eleventh, neither of them conceded points.

Then, the Belgrade native produced a clinical break in the 12th game, in which he seemed to strive for air between points before sealing the set 7-5 in 55 minutes.

Ahead of the contest against the Italian player, the 37-year-old outlined: “There is always that conviction and belief inside of me that I can win a slam. That’s the reason why I’m still competing at this level. That’s why I’m here.”

Adding: “At this age, I wouldn’t really be competing if I didn’t believe I possess the quality to go all the way to the title match.”

As the second set wore on, Djokovic stayed the course, breaking in the fourth game to be up a set and a break.

Somehow, the defending champion, who continued to gasp for air, notably lacking performance, found a way to battle his fitness challenges as his adversary, delivering when it mattered most.

Nonetheless, the 22-year-old born in Carrara kicked a level, breaking his opponent to narrow the gap to 3-4, capitalizing on his chances.

The edgy set went into a thrilling tiebreak, which Musetti took 7-6(6) in 82 minutes, saving one set point in the process to even the match at one set apiece with the clock ticking 1 a.m. in Paris.

The two-time tour-level titlist went the distance, taking the third set by storm, breaking twice to pocket a 6-2 win in 42 minutes, opening a two-set-to-one advantage.

He won 63 percent of the first-serve points, firing ten winners to just three unforced errors.

The pressure stepped up in the fourth game, which went with serves until Djokovic regrouped to break in the fifth game, inching ahead 3-2.

The more pressure he was under, the more he elevated his level, like a reflex mechanism that only the greatest in history activate naturally.

The inflection point of a singular encounter saw him appealing to his vast repertoire, striking an ace first and then generating a spectacular volley, holding at 4-2.

Moreover, he cut a long run short by breaking twice in the seventh game at 2:25 a.m.

However, he failed to serve for the match, an opportunity the player mentored by Simone Tartarini did not let slip, breaking to narrow the score to 3-5.

A match for the ages saw the three-time Roland Garros winner breaking back, and as a result, the contest went to a fifth set.

A rollercoaster of emotions kept the adrenaline going despite the late hours.

From that moment on, the 98-time ATP titlist did not look back, wrapping up the fifth set 6-0 and the match with a forehand return winner.

He finished with 44 winners to 42 unforced errors compared to Musetti, 53 and 34, respectively.

In addition, he converted 9 of 15 breakpoint opportunities, winning 69 percent of the first serve points and 59 percent of his net approaches, hitting 33 volleys and 24 drop shots.

Neither player dropped a set en route to their third-round encounter throughout week one at the Grand Slam.

Earlier in the day, his next rival, Cerundolo, advanced for the second straight year to the last 16 by outlasting 14th seed Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

There is tennis, there is resilience, and then, there is Djokovic tennis.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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