French Open: Novak Djokovic survives an almighty scare to continue his title defense into the second week

The defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic stepped out on Court Philippe Chatrier against Diego Schwartzman, and the Serb was trailing a set and two sets to one down before he beat the world number 41 in a five-set thriller in 3 hours and 19 minutes.

French Open: Novak Djokovic survives an almighty scare to continue his title defense into the second week
Djokovic survives a tough test in Paris (Photo by Tim Clayton / Corbis Sport)
Novak Djokovic
3 2
Diego Schwartzman

The second seed Novak Djokovic breezed past his opening two rounds but he had a tough third round encounter with Diego Schwartzman. However, on Day Six of the French Open, the defending men's singles champion was majorly tested against the Argentine but the Serb didn't give up and he ensured that he would continue his title defence in the second week at the French Open.

Schwartzman fights back to win the opening set

The 12-time Grand Slam champion began proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier with an easy hold to settle into the match. Immediately, the Serb had break point chances in Schwartzman's opening service game but the diminutive Argentine held serve. Djokovic held serve to love in his next service game, and he broke Schwartzman to love to lead 3-1. The defending champion saved a break point but he consolidated the break to lead 4-1.

However, the former world number one's level dropped dramatically as the Serb committed a few unforced errors, and the world number 41 won the next three successive games on the bounce to level the match at 4-4.

Djokovic restored order by holding to love in his next service game, applying all of the pressure on Schwartzman to try to serve to stay in the opening set. The game was full of unforced errors from Djokovic which allowed Schwartzman to restore parity, keeping the opening set evenly poised at 5-5. Moreover, the second seed was rattled as he produced two poor attempts of a drop shot landing in the net lifelessly with Schwartzman breaking to love. The Argentine faced a stubborn resistance from the former world number one as he took him five set points to take a surprising one set to love to lead when Djokovic's backhand continued to break down.

Schwartzman also pulled off the upset but played a good level of tennis (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)
Schwartzman also pulled off the upset but played a good level of tennis (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)

Djokovic storms back to take the second set

Both players held serve in their opening service games to kick off the second set. Once again, both players were trading in tremendous baseline rallies, and Djokovic held serve again to lead 2-1. The duo continued to duel it out on Court Philippe Chatrier without struggling in their service games.

However, Schwartzman was under pressure at 3-4 down in the opening set. Djokovic was stamping down his authority racing out to a 0-30 lead on the 24-year-old's serve. However, a couple of unforced errors from the Serb's racquet, allowed Schwartzman to get off the hook temporarily. Furthermore, Djokovic placed a winner in the corner to create a break point. The Argentine saved it but he wasn't out of the woods yet as the former world number one converted his sixth break point by virtue of Schwartzman committing a forehand unforced error in the net to lead 5-3.

The former world number one levelled the match with a serve to love with an ace out wide 6-3.

Schwartzman takes a shocking two sets to one lead over Djokovic

The Argentine set the restart button in the opening set, and he held comfortably in his first service game in the third set. The defending champion held to love in his next service game to level the third set at 1-1. Schwartzman continued to serve well in his next service game forcing the former world number one to commit some errors. Nonetheless, Djokovic won back-to-back points by virtue of a double fault and a backhand winner down the line. The world number 41 stretched out his lead to 2-1 with the Serb committing more unforced errors.

The third set continued to ebb and flow with some backhand winners from both players, and unforced errors, with no players creating any break point chances. Furthermore, the world number 41 took a 4-3 lead in the third set. However, the defending champion had plenty to worry about as Djokovic committed a double fault and two back-to-back unforced errors to trail 0-40 on his serve. The Serb found a half-volley winner at the net and a forehand unforced error from Schwartzman. Djokovic was unable to save the third break point with his forehand sailing out wide.

The Argentine received a medical timeout (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)
The Argentine received a medical timeout (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)

The diminutive Argentine had the task of serving for two sets to one lead. Furthermore, the defending champion applied pressure on Schwartzman as the world number 41 quickly trailed 0-40 on his serve, committing unforced errors. Schwartzman received a helping hand from Djokovic as he committed more unforced errors. The Serb created a fourth break point chance with an overhead smash at the net. Moreover, Schwartzman saved it with a sweet forehand winner down the line.

The 24-year-old continued his good play, and he received his first set point with a forehand winner down the line. Djokovic was on the stretch on the baseline and was unable to get it. The Serb saved it but he was unable to save the second break point with a good serve forcing the error from Djokovic, who was left in a precarious position.

The Serb levels the match as he shows his vintage form in the fourth set


Djokovic opened proceedings in the fourth set with sweet forehand winners and a ripping crosscourt backhand winner. However, the Serb won his first service game with a forehand winner at the net. The Argentine was under pressure in his service game despite leading 40-0, Djokovic applied pressure with a backhand return winner down the line. Schwartzman committed more unforced errors, and he broke the 24-year-old with a backhand forcing the error. Djokovic consolidated the break with a hold to love, 3-0 to gain a stranglehold in this third round encounter.

Djokovic and the umpire had a few disagreements (Photo by Aurelien Meunier / Getty)
Djokovic and the umpire had a few disagreements (Photo by Aurelien Meunier / Getty)

The former world number one continued to up his level of play whilst Schwartzman was unable to play well, as Djokovic gained a double break to lead 4-0. Out of nowhere, the Argentine retrieved one of the breaks back but the defending champion had a little altercation with the umpire, as Djokovic received a warning for supposedly giving the umpire an attitude.

Nonetheless, Djokovic used that frustration to spur him on as he regained his double break advantage by breaking the Argentine to love. The defending French Open champion continued to remain ruthless as he served to love with a sweet forehand winner to take the match to a deciding set.


Djokovic cruises in the final set to keep his title defence alive

The inevitable occurred in the final set as Schwartzman was broken immediately by Djokovic. The Serb was made to work in his first service game in the final set but he consolidated the break to take a 2-0 lead. Schwartzman got on the board with a comfortable service game to remain in touch with a forehand winner in the corner.

The Argentine was seeming to run out of steam as Djokovic continued to step into the court to finish off the points quickly with a drop shot winner to lead 3-1. Schwartzman continued to commit more unforced errors as Djokovic sealed the final nail in the coffin with a double break.

The defending French Open champion found a way to win and will be tough to beat in Paris (Photo by Tim Clayton / Corbis Sport)
The defending French Open champion found a way to win and will be tough to beat in Paris (Photo by Tim Clayton / Corbis Sport)

The valiant Schwartzman received a medical timeout as he was nursing a back and rib injury. As the match resumed Djokovic held serve for a final time with a cruel but neat drop shot winner. Schwartzman was unable to play at a high level, and the punishment was over with a scintillating forehand return winner down the line. Djokovic prevailed over Schwartzman, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in 3 hours and 19 minutes.

Schwartzman received a standing ovation from the crowd, and the former world number one joined in with the applause.

By the numbers

The defending champion produced seven aces to Schwartzman's four, and whilst the former world number one committed one double fault, the Argentine committed five. Djokovic got 70 percent of his first serves in, winning 78 percent of the points on it. In contrast, Schwartzman got 60 percent of his first serves in, winning only 62 percent of the points on it. Djokovic produced 43 winners and 55 unforced errors, whilst the unseeded Argentine produced 26 winners and committed 58 unforced errors.

The world number two will need to improve in his fourth round match as he will play 19th seed Albert Ramos Vinolas, who reached the quarterfinals in Paris last year.


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