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French Open 2024: Novak Djokovic survives scare against 27th-ranked Cerundolo in gruelling 5-setter

Novak Djokovic faced a formidable challenge at the French Open 2024, surviving a scare against 27th-ranked Francisco Cerundolo in a gruelling five-set match.

Tennis French Open 2024: Novak Djokovic survives scare against 27th-ranked Cerundolo in gruelling 5-setter osf
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First Published Jun 4, 2024, 12:22 AM IST

Novak Djokovic faced a tough challenge at the French Open 2024 as he survived a scare against 27th-ranked Francisco Cerundolo in a gruelling five-set match. The thrilling encounter saw Djokovic pushed to his limits by the determined Cerundolo, showcasing the intense competition and Djokovic's resilience in Grand Slam tennis.

Novak Djokovic recovered from being two sets to one down and battled through a knee injury to defeat Francisco Cerundolo, securing his spot in the French Open quarter-finals. The world No. 1 had to dig deep for the second match in a row following his marathon encounter against Lorenzo Musetti in the previous round. However, as he often does, Djokovic found a way to win, eventually prevailing 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in four hours and 39 minutes.

It was the first meeting between the pair, and Cerundolo will rue missing a golden opportunity to claim a big scalp and reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final. In contrast, Djokovic advances to the last eight of a major for the 59th time and continues his quest for a fourth French Open crown against either Taylor Fritz or Casper Ruud.

Following his win over Musetti, which finished at 3:07 am local time, there were concerns about Djokovic's fitness, but he quickly dispelled any fears. The pair split the opening two games before the Serbian reeled off five in a row to take the first set. However, the match took a dramatic turn minutes later.

After Cerundolo held for 2-1 in the second set, Djokovic appeared to suffer a knee injury, calling for the trainer and then the doctor at the changeover to alleviate his symptoms. Sensing an opportunity, the Argentinian outsider applied relentless pressure, eventually securing a crucial break to win the second set 7-5 and level the contest.

As Djokovic continued to struggle physically, Cerundolo’s confidence grew. He raced into a 3-0 lead in the third set and didn’t wilt, moving within a set of a famous victory when the defending champion found the net with a forehand return. A break in the fifth game of the fourth set further boosted Cerundolo’s cause, but Djokovic’s unrivaled survival instincts kicked in.

Producing his best tennis with his back against the wall, Djokovic won five of the next six games from 4-2 down to force a decider and add another comeback victory to his resume. Cerundolo fought valiantly, but his fate was sealed when Djokovic broke from 40-0 down to make it 5-3 before the 24-time Grand Slam champion served it out to reach his 18th French Open quarter-final.

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