In order to escape what would have been his quickest departure from the U.S. Open since 2006, Novak Djokovic defeated Laslo Djere 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in the third round.
By now, everyone should be aware that Novak Djokovic should never be written off. regardless of the size of the disadvantage he has. Regardless of how poorly he may be playing.
It so made sense that Djokovic would be able to overcome a two-set deficit to defeat Laslo Djere in the third round of the U.S. Open, winning 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, preventing what would have been his earliest exit there since 2006.
Trust me, it was nerve-wracking up to the final shot, Djokovic said.
The game took place in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night under the lights, and it didn’t end until well after 1:30 a.m., more than three and a half hours later.
Djokovic had won eight times in his career after losing the first two sets of a match. He also increased his career record in five-setter matches to 38-11.
Once he had the upper hand, he clung to it tightly and never let Djere catch up. Djokovic handled the pressure of a fifth set with composure, scoring 12 of the first 14 points to make it clear how this would go.
At Flushing Meadows, Djokovic has won three of his men’s record 23 Grand Slam championships and finished in second place six times, including in 2021. The 36-year-old Serbian was unable to participate in the U.S. Open in 2017 because he was unable to enter the country as a visitor without having received the COVID-19 vaccination; this restriction was removed in May.
Almost everyone anticipates that Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will play for the championship on September 10. Djokovic is seeded No. 2 in New York behind Alcaraz. A rematch of their thrilling Wimbledon final from July, which Alcaraz won in five sets, would take place then.
That seemed to be in danger of falling apart thanks to Djere, a 28-year-old Serbian who was seeded 32nd in New York.
He was attempting to go to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, and he entered Friday with a 0-6 record in majors against opponents rated in the Top 10. This would have been by far the biggest win of his career.
On this chilly evening, perhaps the intimidation element that benefits Djokovic in most matches wasn’t present, at least not right away. The compatriots have been working together for years, competing on tour as a doubles combination, practicing together, and participating in Davis Cup competitions.
They reunited at the net for a hug once it was over.
As Djere left the court, Djokovic cheered.
In the first set, I didn’t have many alternatives, but in the third, I kind of pulled myself up, Djokovic said. “Once I made a break in the third, I assumed everything was fine. I may succeed. I’ve got a chance. So I might as well pursue it. Compared to the first two sets, I started to read his game more.