Novak Djokovic, the second seed at the US Open, orchestrated a remarkable comeback in the third round on Friday, displaying his unmatched resilience and determination against his compatriot Laslo Djere. This thrilling encounter not only showcased Djokovic's unwavering spirit but also kept his aspirations alive for a record-breaking 24th major title.
Fighting from a seemingly insurmountable two-set deficit, Djokovic added yet another chapter to his legacy by mounting a stunning reversal, ultimately prevailing 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in a marathon battle that stretched on for three hours and forty-five minutes.
Addressing the devoted crowd after this nail-biting contest, Djokovic expressed his appreciation for their unwavering support, even at the late hour. "Unbelievable. It’s almost 2 a.m., a large number of people stayed," Djokovic said.
"I hope [the fans] enjoyed the show, it was definitely not so enjoyable for me, especially in the first two sets. It was one of the toughest matches I’ve played here in many years. Huge, huge credit to Laslo for playing some of the best tennis that I’ve ever seen him play." In the early stages of the match, Djere showcased his prowess in extended rallies, confidently launching powerful shots from the baseline and strategically placing shots behind Djokovic to disrupt his rhythm.
However, Djokovic gathered his determination and raised his game, capitalizing on Djere's errors to turn the tide in the third set.
Djokovic's Inner Pep Talk Ignites Epic Comeback
Summoning his inner resolve, Djokovic shared his perspective on his pivotal mid-match moment, saying, "I did a little pep talk in the mirror.
I kind of laughed at myself because I was so pissed off and annoyed with the result." This introspection spurred him to lift his spirits, a strategy that has worked for him before, and this time was no exception. The turning point arrived when Djokovic clinched a crucial break in the third set, winning a grueling 26-shot rally that injected fresh energy into his game.
The fervent Serbian sensation elicited roars of approval from the crowd, signaling his determination to seize control. While the final score may suggest a one-sided affair, Djere continued to challenge Djokovic, forcing him to bring his A-game to every point.
Djokovic seized a pivotal break during an intense 10-minute game in the fourth set, and his stalwart defense later quashed Djere's hopes of an upset. As the clock ticked past 1:30 a.m., Djokovic's triumphant victory was cemented.
Reflecting on the testing encounter, he shared, "It was very difficult for me to find a solution. He is a very complete player, all-around quality serve, return, forehand, backhand." Djokovic's strategic adjustments and unwavering focus ultimately paved the way for his awe-inspiring comeback.
With an impressive season record of 41 wins and 5 losses, Djokovic's journey continues at the US Open. If he secures his third major title of the year, he will etch his name into history as the oldest men's champion in the Open Era of the US Open.
In the upcoming round, Djokovic is set to face off against Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo, who has shown remarkable determination of his own to reach his maiden major fourth round. As the tennis world watches with bated breath, Djokovic's pursuit of greatness remains undeterred on the courts of the US Open.
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