In the first round it was 1:09 local time when Novak Djokovic finished the match against Alexandre Muller, early on Saturday morning the Serb had to work even longer at Arthur Ashe Stadium before the working day was over for him after a bad shock.
In contrast to his first two appearances in Flushing Meadows, in which Djokovic only allowed his opponents a total of eleven games, his compatriot Laslo Djere demanded everything from him in round three.
At least in the first two rounds, in which Djere showed the “best tennis I’ve ever seen him play” in Djokovic’s eyes.
“It wasn’t so enjoyable for me in the first two sets. It was one of the most difficult matches I’ve played here in years,” admitted the 36-year-old.
Djokovic: “Unnerving to the last punch”
Djere repeatedly forced the 23-time Grand Slam winner into long rallies, which he dominated with his powerful forehand. A break in the first and one in the second was enough to secure the 2-0 lead. There was a touch of sensation in the air.
“After that I understood that I still had a chance. And then I reached for her,” said Djokovic: “I approached the rallies more aggressively, could read his game better. And it worked. But believe me, it was nerve-wracking to the last blow.”
At 01:32 Djokovic converted his second match point.
Djokovic meets qualifier Gojo
The last time Djokovic managed such a comeback at the US Open was in the semifinals of 2011. At that time he was 0:2 behind against Roger Federer, turned the match and won 6:7 (7:9), 4:6 , 6:3, 6:2, 7:5. In the final that followed, he won his first of three US Open titles.
In the round of the last 16, Borna Gojo, a Croatian qualifier, is now waiting for Djokovic. The number 105 in the world did not drop a set in his first three appearances and knocked out Mackenzie McDonald and the Czech Jiří Veselý, among others.
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