The two-time champion Novak Djokovic on Friday produced a masterclass performance on the Court Philippe-Chatrier to overcome a fierce challenge from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to seal a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 third-round victory in the ongoing French Open 2023. His next opponent in Paris will be either 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz or Juan Pablo Varillas. Djokovic, the two-time winner, held off a torrent of powerful hitting from the 29th seed Davidovich Fokina in two enthralling opening sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Serbian grabbed command in the third set and cruised to a three-hour, 36-minute triumph.
Djokovic fell a break of service down twice in the first set against the Spaniard on Friday, as Davidovich Fokina’s crisp hitting tugged the Serbian all about Court Philippe-Chatrier. Djokovic, on both instances, recaptured the break in the following game, and the 36-year-old then elevated his game in the tie-break, claiming the set with a magnificent forehand return winner.
Any notion that disappointment would dampen Davidovich Fokina’s challenge was swiftly dispelled, as the Spaniard raced out to a 2-0 lead in the second set. Djokovic raced to a four-game lead, but Davidovich Fokina, who beat Djokovic on clay in Monte Carlo last year, fought to force a tie-break.
In the tie-break, the World No. 3 found another gear, winning a series of lung-busting rallies to extend his lead. After winning the set, Djokovic let out a yell and raised his fist to the fans in excitement. Djokovic, who is seeded to face Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, surged ahead in the third set, hitting 11 winners to claim his 23rd victory of the year.
“I knew it was going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match. We played three hours for only two sets. He contested very well. He is an amazing fighter and an amazing player. He has very few weaknesses in his game. Congratulations to him for fighting. Bad luck, but he played a great match,” ATP quoted Djokovic as saying.
“A win is a win. The first two sets, three hours, I thought if I lose the second set, I will probably be playing five hours today. You have to be ready. That is what Grand Slams are all about, playing best of five. You have to believe in yourself and make the most out of it. I am proud of the performance today,” Djokovic said.
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