Novak Djokovic battles past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in French Open marathon

By Sports Desk June 02, 2023

Novak Djokovic fought off a terrific challenge from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to reach the fourth round of the French Open for a 14th consecutive year.

The 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-2 victory took three hours and 36 minutes, with Djokovic twice a break down in the first set and forced to save a set point in the second.

The 22-time grand-slam champion looked unsettled in windy conditions, while he called the trainer before the third set to have his left thigh massaged, but, as he so often does, he found a way to come out on top.

Djokovic had struggled in his opening set against Marton Fucsovics on Wednesday before breezing through the next two, and it quickly became clear Spaniard Davidovich Fokina would offer a real test.

The 23-year-old, ranked 34, matched his opponent in physical rallies from the baseline and broke for the first time to lead 3-2.

Djokovic hit straight back but was broken again at 5-5 after a game that featured three double faults and a time violation.

Again, Davidovich Fokina was unable to serve it out, though, and Djokovic made him pay for the wasted opportunities by winning a tie-break.

This time the challenge very much continued in the second set as the pair exchanged breaks of serve three times, with Djokovic unable to clinch it at 5-4.

Davidovich Fokina had one chance to break again and level the match in Djokovic’s next service game but he could not take it and the Serbian again came out on top in a tie-break.

Djokovic let his emotions out, roaring and fist-pumping, but the toll the effort had taken became clear when he called the trainer, applying ice to his left thigh and gesturing sarcastically towards the crowd.

Djokovic looked distinctly uncomfortable at times in the third set but he forged ahead early on and did not let Davidovich Fokina back in, giving a weary celebration when the Spaniard’s resistance finally ran out.

“I knew that it’s going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match,” said Djokovic.

“He contested very, very well. He’s an amazing fighter, amazing player. Congratulations to him for fighting. Bad luck but he played a great match.

“Of course a win is a win, maybe a little bit too much, three hours for two sets. I thought, if I would lose the second set, we’d probably play for five hours.

“But you have to be ready. It takes a lot of effort but we all have to believe in ourselves. I’m proud of the performance today for sure.”

It was another day of long matches, with Italian Lorenzo Sonego fighting back from two sets down to defeat seventh seed Andrey Rublev, while Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner saw off Fabio Fognini in five sets.

After his epic victory over Stan Wawrinka, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis was involved in another lengthy battle with 11th seed Karen Khachanov but was unable to force a decider, losing out 6-4 6-1 3-6 7-6 (5).

Related items

  • Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025 Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025

    Boris Becker says he is “working hard with the authorities” to return to the UK and Wimbledon in 2025.

    The three-time Wimbledon men’s singles champion was deported from the UK in December 2022 after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for hiding £2.5m of assets and loans in a bankruptcy fraud case.

    Becker cannot return to the UK until October 2024 at the earliest following his deportation, but the 56-year-old German plans to return to the tournament he says is “in my DNA” as soon as possible.

    “Wimbledon has been my favourite tournament as a player, coach and commentator,” Becker said at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid.

    “It’s unique, you can’t compare it.

    “I lived in Wimbledon a long time so I’m working hard with the authorities to have all the applications ready to be back for next year. We’re working on 2025.

    “It’s a part of my life. It’s in my DNA, you can’t deny that.”

    Asked if he would be back in the Wimbledon commentary box, Becker replied: “I hope so.”

    Becker has not been involved in tennis since stepping down as Holger Rune’s head coach at the start of February.

    The pair spent less than four months together, but in that time the 20-year-old qualified for the ATP finals in Italy.

    ::The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards take place on Monday evening in Madrid. To find out more, and follow the ceremony, visit www.laureus.com

  • Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza announces retirement

    Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has announced her retirement from tennis.

    The 30-year-old Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 before lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court the following summer but she had not played a competitive match since January 2023.

    At a press conference where she was announced as a Laureus Ambassador, Muguruza said: “If 25 years ago, when I started hitting my first tennis balls, someone had told me that I would become a professional tennis player, that I would fulfil my dream of winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon, that I would become number one in the world and win the WTA Finals, I would have thought this person was crazy.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Women’s Tennis Association (@wta)

    “Tennis has given me a lot in this first part of my life. It has been a fantastic journey in which I have experienced unique situations. I have travelled all over the world and experienced many different cultures.

    “I am tremendously grateful to all the people who have helped and accompanied me throughout this chapter, because without them I would not have been able to get here.

    “I have grown and matured in a very different way than what can be considered normal, and now I am ready to start a new chapter in my life, which will surely be linked in some way to tennis and sports.

    “I hope that my collaboration with Laureus Sport for Good is the beginning of many more projects in which I can dedicate myself and help young people through sport.”

    Muguruza turned professional in 2012 and reached her first grand slam final three years later at Wimbledon, where she was beaten by Serena Williams.

    But the big-hitting Spaniard took revenge in 2016 when she stunned Williams in the final at Roland Garros, and a year later she beat Venus Williams to add the Wimbledon trophy to her collection.

    She climbed to the top of the rankings in September 2017, where she stayed for four weeks, but consistency was not Muguruza’s strong point and she slipped down the standings before a resurgence in 2020.

    Muguruza reached her fourth grand slam final at the Australian Open, losing to American Sofia Kenin, and she returned to the world’s top three at the end of 2021 after winning the WTA Finals for the first time.

    But the next season saw her plummet back down the rankings and her retirement comes as no surprise given her long hiatus from the sport.

  • Emma Raducanu’s run at Stuttgart Open ended by world number one Iga Swiatek Emma Raducanu’s run at Stuttgart Open ended by world number one Iga Swiatek

    Emma Raducanu’s progress in the Stuttgart Open was halted in straight sets by world number one Iga Swiatek.

    The Polish four-time grand slam champion, in her 100th week on top of the ATP world rankings, prevailed 7-6 (2) 6-3 to set up a semi-final showdown with Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.

    It was, however, an encouraging quarter-final performance from Raducanu, who has slipped to 303 in the world rankings after a torrid 2023.

    Raducanu came in to the contest on a high after winning four matches in a row for the first time since her US Open title in 2021 and raised confidence levels were reflected in the opening exchanges.

    Several booming returns from the 21-year-old Briton turned a 0-40 deficit into an immediate break of serve, but Swiatek levelled after edging a second game that featured seven deuces.

    That see-saw battle set the tone for a marathon 70-minute opening set which produced plenty of high-quality ground strokes from both sides of the net.

    The match went with serve from that point, with Raducanu superbly holding her nerve at 5-4 and 6-5 down to force the first set to a tie-break.

    Swiatek completely dominated the tie-break though, winning the first four points before closing it out 7-2.

    Raducanu was quickly in trouble again in the second set, falling 2-0 behind and covered in clay after losing her footing on the baseline.

    She continued to fight and fended off break points in her next two service games to stay in the match.

    But Swiatek kept up the pressure to finally end Raducanu’s resistance to move in to the last four.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.