Match Report

Djokovic Digs Deep To Down Davidovich Fokina At Roland Garros

22-time major champion to play Hurkacz or Varillas in fourth round
June 02, 2023
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during Friday's third round at Roland Garros.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during Friday's third round at Roland Garros. By ATP Staff

Novak Djokovic cut through the tie-break tension in style on Friday at Roland Garros, where the third seed overcame a fierce challenge from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to seal a 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2 third-round victory.

The two-time champion Djokovic withstood a barrage of big hitting from the 29th seed Davidovich Fokina in two richly entertaining opening sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Serbian then took control in the third set for a hard-earned three-hour, 36-minute victory.

"I knew it was going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match," Djokovic said. "We played three hours for only two sets. He contested very well. He is an amazing fighter and an amazing player. He has very few weaknesses in his game. Congratulations to him for fighting. Bad luck, but he played a great match."

Djokovic is now into the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 14th year in a row as he chases a record 23rd major trophy, as well as a return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, this fortnight in Paris. His next opponent in the French capital will be 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz or Juan Pablo Varillas.

"A win is a win. The first two sets, three hours, I thought if I lose the second set, I will probably be playing five hours today," Djokovic said. "You have to be ready. That is what Grand Slams are all about, playing best of five. You have to believe in yourself and make the most out of it. I am proud of the performance today."

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The match against Davidovich Fokina followed a similar pattern to Djokovic’s triumph over Marton Fucsovics in the second round. The Serbian won a tight tie-break in the opening set against the Hungarian before motoring away to clinch a straight-sets win.

Competing against the Spaniard on Friday, Djokovic twice fell a break of serve behind in a entertaining first set as Davidovich Fokina’s clean hitting pulled the Serbian all around Court Philippe-Chatrier. Djokovic reclaimed the break in the next game on both occasions, however, and the 36-year-old then raised his level in the tie-break, clinching the set with a stunning forehand return winner.

Any suggestion that disappointment would deflate Davidovich Fokina’s challenge was quickly dispelled as the Spaniard opened a 2-0 lead in the second set. Djokovic responded by reeling off four games to lead, but Davidovich Fokina, who defeated the Serbian on clay in Monte-Carlo last year, rallied to force a tie-break.

The World No. 3 found another gear in the tie-break, winning a series of lung-busting rallies to move further clear. Djokovic let out a roar after winning the set, raising his fist to the crowd in celebration. Djokovic, who is seeded to meet Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, raced through the third set, clubbing 11 winners in the set to seal his 23rd win of the year.

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