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French Open 2024: Djokovic beats Francisco Cerundolo to claim 370th Grand Slam win

French Open 2024: Djokovic beats Francisco Cerundolo to claim 370th Grand Slam win

Paris (AFP) – Novak Djokovic He was lying on his back French Open He was sidelined early in the second set on Monday, with his injured right knee taken by the coach – and he was concerned he might need to stop playing the match.

After stumbling and limping, then finding himself down a set and a break against a younger opponent, Djokovic regained his vitality with the help of what he said the tournament doctor told him was the maximum permissible dose of pain-relieving pills. Reducing any infections.

So, yes, Djokovic kept at it and came back to win in five sets in about 4 1/2 hours for the second time in a row, edging past 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-. 5 and 6-3 in the fourth round at Roland Garros to achieve his 370th victory in a Grand Slam match. But here’s the rub: Djokovic said he can’t be sure if he will be healthy enough to play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or the day after, if I will be able to go out on the court and play,” the 37-year-old Djokovic said. “You know, I hope so. Let’s see what happens.”

Djokovic said his knee had been bothering him for several weeks, wearing it down, and it got worse after he suffered a knee injury against Cerundolo. Djokovic took a medical break when the score was 2-1 in the second set, was treated by the coach in subsequent substitutions, and received more medication after the third set.

“Honestly, I didn’t know if I should continue or not,” Djokovic said.

Eventually, he felt better and was able to move without restrictions, and his playing level rose accordingly.

This was the second straight victory in five sets, which lasted about four and a half hours for Djokovic. No. 1 seed and defending champion in Paris. He said the accumulation of time is not a problem; However, it was his knee.

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Djokovic is supposed to meet No. 7 seed Casper Ruud on Wednesday. Ruud, who beat No. 12 Taylor Fritz 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday, lost to Djokovic in last year’s French Open final and to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 title match.

“The effect of the drugs won’t last for long, so I’ll see,” Djokovic said. “I think we will do more scans and tests tomorrow.”

Questions about his status have drawn attention away from the latest in a long line of monumental achievements by Djokovic. His win over Cerundolo allowed Djokovic to break a tie with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam wins – and also for the most Grand Slam quarterfinals by a man, reaching 59th in his career.

But hardly. Djokovic trailed by two sets to one, and trailed by a break point of 4-2 in the fourth set, leaving him two games away from defeat.

“I was three or four points away from losing this match,” Djokovic said afterward.

However, he found success in ways he was more accustomed to during his years of dominance 24 jackpots, a total that includes three at the French Open. They’ve both changed the contest after falling behind – go ahead and ask Federer about holding match points against the man – and show up when the tension is at its peak. Djokovic is 40-11 in the fifth set during his career. Compare that with Cerundolo’s 1-3, and the result will surprise no one.

“In fact, he is the strongest player to ever play tennis,” Cerundolo said. “He always finds a way to come back and give his best in the most difficult moments and at the end of every match.”

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When the score was 2-1 in the crucible of the fifth set, Djokovic’s feet collapsed as he chased the ball to his right, and he rolled to the ground, staining his white pants, red shirt, and parts of his arms and legs with rust. – Colored clay. As he walked to the sideline to grab a water bottle to clean, he gave part of his opinion to anyone who would listen, reiterating an earlier complaint about wanting to sweep the court to improve traction.

“Well done, supervisor and everyone,” Djokovic said, his voice laced with sarcasm. “Not slippery at all.”

In his press conference, he reiterated his concerns and disappointment with the decision not to do more about clay.

“I mean, I hurt myself today. Yeah, I survived. I won the match. Great. But will I be able to play next time?” he said, tapping his palms on the table for emphasis. “I don’t know.” I don’t know how serious the injury is. But can this injury be prevented? “Maybe if there was a little more frequent attention to the court during the set.”

In the third round, He made his way into the past No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti, a 22-year-old from Italy, finished Sunday after 3 a.m., the last place in French Open history.

Against Cerundolo, the 25-year-old Argentine who was trying to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Djokovic once again used all his skill, experience and ability to adapt quickly. He partly achieved this by increasing the speed in his groundstrokes.

From 3 to 5 in the fifth, Djokovic clinched every remaining match. This included breaking a 5-3 lead with a forehand that hit the baseline – and was so close to being out that chair umpire Aurelie Tourte came down to check.

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The other men’s quarterfinals will be on Wednesday Alex de Minaur Against Alexander Zverev or Holger Röhn. that day Women’s quarter-finals: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Mira Andreeva, and Elena Rybakina vs. Yasmine Paolini.

With temperatures reaching 70°F (20°C) after a tournament of cold weather and Lots of rain – A change in conditions that Djokovic believed affected the amount of clay on the playing surface – Blue skies finally appeared, as Djokovic and Cerundolo started in the late afternoon.

Djokovic’s comeback really began on the evening, when he was 4-3 up in the fourth set, when he scored a winner to earn a break point – not to mention the roars from the stands – and converted when Cerundolo scored a volley. Djokovic shook his racket above his head, chants of his two-syllable nickname, “No-lo! No-lo!”

He arrived in Paris with just a 14-6 record in 2024 and has not appeared once in a tournament final, let alone a title. Sure, he’s been living on the edge so far at the French Open — where his last match required 9 hours and 8 minutes over 10 sets — but no one has ever been as good as Djokovic in Grand Slam time. As long as he can play at all, that is.

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire and Associated Press Writer Tom Novian contributed to this report.

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Tennis AP: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis