Novak Djokovic ‘not getting into’ French Open debate as he shares turning point of match | Tennis | Sport

Novak Djokovic said he didn’t want to get into a conversation about scheduling after experiencing a huge delay to his third-round match at the French Open. The world No. 1 and Lorenzo Musetti took to the court two hours later than planned when another match was added to Court Philippe-Chatrier.

They smashed the record for the latest finish at Roland Garros as the 37-year-old stormed back to win 7-5 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-0 at 3.06am.

Djokovic later shared what the turning point was after finding himself two sets to one down against the No. 30 seed.

Djokovic and Musetti were scheduled as the sole night session match, starting at 8.15pm local time. But the heavily delayed Grigor Dimitrov vs Zizou Bergs match was moved to Court Philippe-Chatrier to ensure they finished before the winner was due to play again on Sunday. Djokovic was pushed to not before 8.30pm.

The decision was made before Alexander Zverev and Tallon Griekspoor went the distance, with Zverev winning in a fifth-set tiebreak. It meant that Dimitrov and Bergs only took to the court around 8pm and Djokovic and Musetti finally started two hours late, walking on at 10.30pm.

And they contested an incredible five-set match, lasting four hours and 29 minutes and finishing in the early hours of Sunday, smashing the previous latest French Open finish of 1.26am. Although Djokovic didn’t sound pleased with the decision, he didn’t want to discuss scheduling after pulling off an epic comeback.

“I don’t want to get into it,” the 24-time Grand Slam champion said shortly after walking off court. “I have my opinions but I think there are great things to talk about as we are talking about this match today and both Lorenzo’s and my performance stands out. I don’t want to be talking about [the] schedule.”

The top seed is now hoping to recover in time for his last-16 match, though he did make one comment about organisers’ late change to the matches. He added: “I think some things could’ve been handled different way. But there’s beauty as well winning the match at 3.30am if it’s the last one of the tournament but it’s not so I’m going to have to switch all of my young genes and try and recover as quick as possible.”

Analysing the match, the reigning champion at Roland Garros said it was the crowd that spurred him on when Musetti left him questioning himself. “I was in real trouble and credit to Lorenzo for making me uncomfortable on the court and playing some really amazing tennis, you know, very high level. At one point I didn’t know really what to do from both ends he was getting a lot of balls back, winners from both corners, good serves, running every ball down the court so yeah, it didn’t feel great playing him that third set and beginning of the fourth,” he explained.

“I really mean what I said on the court that crowd definitely got me going. I really needed that push, I really needed that energy and 2-2 in the fourth they started chanting my name and I just felt a great new wave of will power and energy and I think I was a different player from that moment onwards.

“And I think from that moment I probably lost only one game to the rest of the match. The fifth set was just amazing, I was on a high, riding that wave and really not letting go of that stranglehold that I created to Lorenzo end of the fourth.”

The pair shared a warm embrace at the net after setting a new record with their 3.06am finish. Sharing what he told the 22-year-old, Djokovic continued: “I just kept going, kept plugging away and amazing winner to finish off the match. I want to thank well all of you and all the crowd and all the people that stayed til 3.30am really. I heard it was the latest finish of Roland Garros in history so I’m glad to be part of history with Lorenzo and I told him at the net that he played amazing and it was a great battle and I know of course it’s a tough one to swallow when you lose a match like this but he can be proud of his performance.”

Djokovic was also seen doubling over and gasping for air in between some points. Admitting that he pushed himself to the physical limits, he said: “I mean yeah, when you’re playing 20+ shot rallies at 2am, who plays at 2am? It’s only a few matches in your life at this time. Especially if someone like Lorenzo is playing on the other side of the net the tennis of his life and not missing much and making you play every single point.

“And it was so muddy and so heavy conditions, very cold, balls were not going anywhere. So you wouldn’t get too many free points with the serve so you have to work every single point of the night tonight and that’s why. I really physically pushed myself to the very limit to win this match.”

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