Massive Stake: Novak Djokovic Was Kept At Bay Until 3 am At FrenchOpen

Novak Djokovic keeps French Open title defense alive after battling back to beat Lorenzo Musetti in record 3am finish at Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic’s French Open title defense – and his hold on No 1 in the rankings – are still alive thanks to a 7-5, 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 comeback victory over 22-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

The third-round battle at Roland Garros lasted four and a half hours, with Djokovic eventually gaining victory after 3am in Paris – the longest finish in tournament history.

It looked for a spell as if Djokovic’s annus horriblis would continue, with the 24-time Grand Slam champion in risk of his earliest Grand Slam defeat for eight years – since he went out at the same stage to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in 2016.

Instead he rallied to clinch a 369th win at a Grand Slam, tying Roger Federer for the most in tennis history.

Djokovic ran away with the last set and will now continue his campaign for a record 25th Grand Slam title and fourth at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic beat Italian Lorenzo Musetti over four and a half hours on Saturday night

Djokovic raced away with the final set and will continue his campaign for a record 25th Grand Slam championship

The 37-year-old has had some terrible outings this year but this was not one of them. He was not at his best but full credit must go to his opponent.

The 22-year-old Musetti gave the performance of his life. With his excellent single-handed backhand and inventive shotmaking, the 30th seed Musetti used every inch of the big Philippe Chatrier arena to drive Djokovic off of position.

The favourite was left gasping for a break while leaning over with hands on knees, or taking so much time between points that he earned a warning.

these was not the first time these pair had done battle in Paris. Musetti led Djokovic by two sets to love here in 2021 before falling entirely – he won only one more game and retired as much from shame as from the cramps he was feeling.

He was eventually outlasted on Saturday, too. Once Djokovic got moving in the right direction in the fourth set, the 30th-ranked Musetti could not withstand the charge.

Musetti used every inch of the enormous Philippe Chatrier venue to push Djokovic out of position

The 37-year-old Djokovic has had some awful displays this year but this was not one of them

He goes through to face Argentine No23 seed Francisco Cerundolo for a place in the quarter finals.

The 37-year-old has still yet to make a final this year and – until he rediscovers his best form – there will be fears that the greatest career in tennis history is entering its denouement.

Djokovic and Musetti were scheduled on court at 8.15pm local time for the evening’s night session.

But because to the unusually terrible weather in Paris – it has rained every day of the event so far and there was barely any play on the outside courts on Friday or Saturday — frantic Roland Garros schedulers opted to bet on squeezing another match into the schedule.

That throw of the dice did not pay off as first Alexander Zverev v Tallon Griekspoor and then Grigor Dimitrov v Zizou Bergs went longer than planned, meaning the world No1 did not get on to Philippe Chatrier until 10.36pm.

This was careless scheduling from Roland Garros. Yes, the weather has placed them in a jam but they should have kept their nerve and trusted to the improving prognosis next week; this frenzied rush to pack the third round in on Saturday was complete foolishness.

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