Prime News Ghana

Stricken Djokovic stages French Open escape act, Medvedev out

By primenewsghana
facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
email sharing button Email
sharethis sharing button Share

An injured Novak Djokovic sealed a 15th consecutive French Open quarterfinal with a thrilling comeback victory over Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round on Monday, while Daniil Medvedev became the highest seed to crash out at Roland Garros so far.

In the women's draw, both Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina comfortably powered into the last eight.

A limping Djokovic looked to be heading for a shock defeat when 2-1 down in sets and 4-2 behind in the fourth set, but battled back from the brink to delight the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd by winning 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 after four hours and 39 minutes.

"Three or four times I was points away from losing this match," the reigning champion said to the spectators. "I'm not sure how I won this match."

Djokovic narrowly avoided his earliest exit from the tournament since 2009, teeing up a rematch of last year's final against Casper Ruud, who beat Taylor Fritz in four sets.

However, he said he was not yet 100 percent sure he would be fit enough to play on Wednesday.

"I don't know what will happen tomorrow or after tomorrow if I'll be able to step out on the court and play. I hope so. Let's see what happens," he said, before blaming the right knee injury he sustained on unusually slippery courts.

"Could this injury have been prevented? Possibly," added Djokovic, who said he asked for the court to be swept more frequently.

The 24-time Grand Slam title winner had reached the last 16 by defeating Italy's Lorenzo Musetti in another bruising five-set encounter which concluded at 3:07 a.m. Sunday.

He appeared to be feeling no ill-effects as he dominated the first set, but then needed a medical time-out early in the second after pulling up with an apparent knee injury.

The 37-year-old, eyeing a record 370th Grand Slam match win to break out of a tie with Roger Federer, played on but continued to walk gingerly between points.

Cerundolo grabbed the second set by finally taking a break point after 12 previous misses.

The 23rd seed moved ahead by two sets to one against an increasingly frustrated top seed, who was complaining the court was too slippery, before edging to the cusp of a famous win by forging 4-2 in front in the fourth.

But, seemingly from nowhere, Djokovic dug deep to break and level at 4-4.

He forced a decider on his fourth set point of a dramatic 12th game when a stretching Cerundolo could only find the net.

There appeared to be only one outcome on the cards when the Serbian star took a 2-0 advantage in the fifth, but his opponent rallied to level.

Djokovic was left covered in clay after a nasty tumble, sarcastically saying: "Well done supervisors, ground staff, everyone, the court is not slippery at all."

But he was not to be denied, grabbing the decisive break with a blistering forehand that clipped the back of the baseline.

A dramatic triumph and yet another quarterfinal was secured on his first match point when a Cerundolo backhand was given out by the chair umpire after initially being ruled in.


Fifth seed Medvedev suffered a four-set loss to Australia's Alex de Minaur, starting strongly before slipping to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 defeat.

De Minaur will face either Alexander Zverev or Holger Rune, who meet in the night session, in his second Slam quarterfinal and first since the 2020 US Open.

Medvedev's best performance in the French Open remains a quarterfinal run in 2021, while he has also lost in the first round in five of his eight appearances.

"Alex played better," admitted Medvedev, a former US Open champion and six-time Grand Slam finalist.

De Minaur had never got past the second round at the tournament before this year, winning just three of 10 matches.


Alexander Zverev survived a second straight five-set match downing Holger Rune in a last-16 tie which ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The German fourth seed fought back to win 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 after four hours and 11 minutes and set up a quarterfinal against Alex de Minaur.

It was the second-latest finish in the tournament's history – after Novak Djokovic's win over Lorenzo Musetti which finished at 3:07 am local time (0107 GMT) on Sunday morning – ending at 1:40 am.

"What a match," said Zverev. "I'm lucky to be through."

He will be targeting a fourth straight Roland Garros semifinal after making the last eight for the sixth time in seven years.

Zverev is playing under the shadow of an ongoing trial in Berlin over allegations of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

He also beat Tallon Griekspoor in a deciding set, in which he trailed by a double-break at 4-1, in the third round.

"I've played a total of eight-and-a-half hours over the last three days so I need to recover," said Zverev.

"I need to do everything possible to be ready for the quarterfinal match."