Djokovic credits crowd with getting him through French Open late, late show

Novak Djokovic attributed the French Open crowd’s overwhelming support as the key factor in helping him avoid an upset against Lorenzo Musetti in a thrilling third-round match that concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning.

As the world’s top-ranked player, Djokovic is renowned for his unwavering determination and endurance. However, he admitted that his title defense had been in jeopardy when his Italian adversary took a two sets to one lead during the marathon 4-1/2-hour encounter. The 37-year-old expressed his uncertainty, stating, “I was truly struggling on the court, and he displayed some truly remarkable tennis. I was unsure of what actions to take.” Djokovic further elaborated, “He was returning a multitude of shots from both sides, hitting winners from all angles.

His serves were exceptional, chasing down every ball. It was a challenging experience playing against him in that third set and the beginning of the fourth.” However, a turning point occurred when the crowd began chanting Djokovic’s name, igniting a fresh surge of determination and vitality within him. He acknowledged that this boost was exactly what he needed to regain his footing and propel himself towards victory.

“I believe I underwent a transformation as a player from that point onward. And since then, I only experienced defeat in one game for the remainder of the match. I was riding a wave of triumph and feeling elated.”

Had the Serbian been defeated, it would have spelled the end of his pursuit for a record-breaking 25th Grand Slam trophy, and he would have relinquished his number one ranking to Jannik Sinner, Musetti’s fellow countryman, later this month.

Djokovic may have had valid grievances as organizers squeezed in another match into the evening schedule, causing his match to conclude at 3:06 a.m. (0106 GMT), marking the latest finish ever recorded at the French Open.

However, the three-time French Open champion chose to shift his focus towards the exceptional quality of the five-set contest instead.

“I prefer not to delve into it. While I do hold my own opinions, I believe there are remarkable aspects to discuss about today’s match,” he expressed.

“Both Lorenzo and I delivered standout performances, so I would rather not dwell on the scheduling. Although certain matters could have been handled differently, there is also a certain beauty in winning a match at such a late hour.”

Djokovic, who mentioned during the match that he won’t be able to sleep due to the surge of adrenaline, is scheduled to compete again on Monday in the fourth round against Francisco Cerundolo, the 23rd seed from Argentina. “I truly pushed my body to its utmost capacity to secure this victory,” he stated. “I’ll need to activate my youthful genes and strive to recover as swiftly as I can.”

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