US Open: Djokovic Mounts Incredible Comeback To Progress
Serbian tennis sensation Novak Djokovic survived a US Open late night scare as he battled back from two sets down to beat compatriot Laslo Djere 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-1 6-3 to move into the fourth round, on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court in New York, USA.
Djere signalled to Djokovic he was in for a tough encounter when he broke the second-seed to start the match and then held his nerve the rest of the set for an unexpected and well-earned 1-0 lead.
Facing one of the greatest players of all-time under the bright lights of tennis’s biggest stage, a fearless Djere could not be rattled piling on the pressure with another break to go up 4-3 in the second, on the way to a 2-0 lead that left Arthur Ashe Stadium stunned.
Djokovic was not without his opportunities, but did not capitalise on his chances until backed into a corner. With the crowd still buzzing, Djokovic came out for the third set with an urgency and energy missing in the opening two sets. He broke Djere at the first opportunity and again to go up 4-0 on the way to cutting the deficit to 2-1.
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With cracks in Djere’s game starting to appear, Djokovic continued to dial up the pressure breaking again to open the fourth set. Djokovic regained control and moved in for the kill, with the 23-time Grand Slam champion sweeping the next six games to take the fourth set.
Djokovic then took a 2-0 lead in the decisive fifth that he would never surrender. On the ropes and struggling, Djokovic as he has done many times before, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in front a record crowd in the Stadium.
It marked the 38th time Djokovic has won a five-setter and kept alive the 36-year-old’s quest for a fourth US Open crown that would pull him level with Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slams.
Novak Djokovic and Laslo Djere put on quite a 5-set show 🤗 pic.twitter.com/1vlGVnq23Z
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2023
“I hope you enjoyed the show, it was not so enjoyable for me especially in the first two sets,” Djokovic told the crowd. “It was one of the toughest matches I have played here in many years.”
“I did a little pep talk in the mirror,” said Djokovic about his bathroom break after the second set. “I kind of laughed at myself because I was agitated and annoyed with the result, I had to kind of force myself to lift myself, to lift the spirits up.”
“Once I got the break in the third I thought ‘OK, I have a shot, I have a chance. I might as well go after it. I started to play a bit more aggressive, started to read his games slightly more than I had in the first two sets and it worked well. But trust me, it was nerve wrecking all the way till the last shot,” he added.
Djokovic had looked imperious in his opening two matches surrendering only 11 games in blowout wins over Frenchman Alexandre Muller and Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles. However, his 32nd seeded countryman Djere proved a far tougher test.
The two Serbs had only clashed once before that in Belgrade last year but there were signs then that Djere was a danger, with the contest needing a brilliant comeback before Djokovic claimed the win.