'Novak Djokovic has shown again why...', says ATP star

A heroic Nole Djokovic refuses defeat against Cerundolo

by Simone Brugnoli
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'Novak Djokovic has shown again why...', says ATP star
© Clive Mason / Staff Getty Images Sport

What seemed to be another day of routine at the office was about to turn into a real drama for Novak Djokovic. The Serbian defied fate and refused to lose again, overcoming Francisco Cerundolo and, above all, his physical problems.

The Serbian champion dominated the first set in every way, but at the start of the second a knee problem - perhaps already evident in the previous match - prevented him from competing at his best. It was the resilience that only belongs to phenomena that gave Djokovic a hand, who with another heroic comeback earned access to the quarterfinals of Roland Garros and added two more incredible records to his collection.

No one has won more matches and reached more quarterfinals than him in a Slam: in both cases he outdistanced Roger Federer, reaching 370 on one side and 59 on the other.

Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic refuses defeat

Novak Djokovic made bad weather and took a 1-0 lead quickly and without suffering.

In the second set, however, the pain in his knee intensified and Djokovic was forced to request a medical time out. From that moment, the match changed face and the 37-year-old cancelled out two break points at 1-2, four at 2-3 and one at 3-4 relying on his serve and extemporaneous solutions such as serve & volley.

Cerundolo wavered until the twelfth game: Djokovic missed a forehand on the second set point offered to his rival. In the third, the Serbian immediately went behind and never threatened on the return, taking a painful 3-6.

The tension devoured Cerundolo who, ahead by a break in the fourth set, allowed Djokovic to come back and, after having wasted a break point, lost his serve again at 5-6. The Serb smelled blood and tried in every way to draw energy from every situation.

Cerundolo recovered the break of disadvantage in the decisive set, but Djokovic made his voice heard on 4-3 giving his all and hitting a magnificent backhand on the counterattack that ended on the line. The match ended 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Francisco Cerúndolo was close to giving the big surprise of this Roland Garros 2024 when he was two games away from beating Novak Djokovic. However, the Serbian, who had been hurting from the knee since the second set, rose from the ashes to come back in a real match.

And he did not hesitate to praise the number one in a press conference. "He really is the toughest guy who has ever played tennis. It was a great battle. He always finds a way to come back and play his best tennis in the most difficult moments and at the end of each match.

So yes, it is what it is. I did everything I could. I was very close, but I couldn't win it. He has shown again why he is the best," said a resigned Cerúndolo.

Novak Djokovic
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