Djokovic Earns Remarkable Comeback Triumph over Cerundolo; Achieves Record 370th All-Time Win at a Slam
Defending champion Novak Djokovic contesting his fourth round match at Roland Garros. June 3, 2024. Paris, France. Photo credit: French Open/FFT/ATP Tour.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic emerges victorious from a staggering first meeting at tour level against 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo, who he ousted in a five-set thriller for a place in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros on Monday.

World number one Novak Djokovic rallied past Argentine Francisco Cerundolo with a 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 marathon victory after four hours and 39 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier, advancing to his 18th French Open quarterfinal in 20 appearances at the Slam.

As a result, he continues his title quest for a fourth crown at Roland Garros and a 25th major title. In the process, he broke another record by surpassing Roger Federer for the most major match wins in history (370).

The Serbian hit the court off the back of a dramatic four-hour, 29-minute five-set clash against Italian Lorenzo Musetti last Saturday, gone 3:08 a.m. local time on Sunday, the latest match finish in tournament history before today’s epic encounter.

The 24-time major champion broke twice on his way to serve out for the opener at 5-1.

Under pressure, he fended off two break points, eventually sealing the seventh game and the first set in his fourth set point in 40 minutes.

After the third game of the second set, Djokovic asked for the physio as he seemed to have suffered a tweak to his knee, which led to a medical time-out for the player to receive treatment on the court.

As play resumed, he continued to test his knee while saving two break points to set the score even at 2-2.

The Belgrade-born, who throughout the match was coming to the net often, stayed behind the baseline, relying on his vast repertoire and sharp shot execution to continue to move forward while trying to find his timing.

A lengthy sixth game went Djokovic’s way as Cerundolo missed his 10th break-point opportunity in the match.

Regardless of the chances missed by his opponent, the three-time Roland Garros winner performance did not match the previous set from that point on.

The 25-year-old would turn around a tight second set when it mattered the most, ultimately converting the break in the 12th game after 76 minutes to level the tie at one set apiece.

The two-time ATP titlist won three consecutive games, breaking in the second game to quickly open a 3-0 lead in the third set.

Djokovic rallied to hold serve in the fourth game, showing signs of struggle with his injury, which limited his movement.

Putting to good use his serve, the 37-year-old narrowed the gap to 3-5.

However, Cerundolo did not hesitate when serving for the set, closing out 6-3 with a forehand-forcing shot in 47 minutes, up two sets to one.

The fourth set went with serves until the Buenos Aires native broke and held, extending his advantage to 4-2, challenging his rival resilience.

Nonetheless, the 98-time ATP winner continued to fight back, and the efforts paid dividends, recovering from a break down to earn his first break in the set, roaring after holding to step ahead 5-4.

Cerudolo held serve at love, following to step up the pressure over Djokovic, who saved a break point and battled at deuce to win back the lead at 6-5.

The late challenge saw the Serbian player notching a crucial break in the 12th game to close out 7-5 as the former world No. 19 committed an unforced error, which cost him the fourth set.

Adrenaline seemed to have helped the all-time men’s Grand Slam title leader to kick up his level en route to becoming unplayable.

He made a rock-solid start to the fifth set, going the distance to take the break in the second game, but so did Cerundolo, who broke straight back with a backhand down the line.

Then, Djokovic took a fall on the side of the court he had earlier complained about to the chair umpire, asking to swipe the court.

The set remained close, each player holding their ground on serve.

With the clock ticking beyond four hours and a half, the players were taking the game to another level, playing rallies as if the contest had just begun for the delight of a crowd on fire.

Once and again, Djokovic resilience shone brightly in Paris, holding his nerve like only he can do, taking a clinical break by hitting with brilliance a forehand down the line winner, up 5-3.

He served out for the match, achieving what seemed, at times, impossible, grabbing the set 6-3 and the match, staying alive at the French Open.

He finished with 52 winners to 46 unforced errors compared to Cerundolo’s 68 and 45, respectively.

Moreover, he won 69 percent of the first-serve points, converting 6 of 11 break-point opportunities.

Djokovic will face off against 12th seed Taylor Fritz or two-time Roland Garros runner-up Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals.

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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