Novak Djokovic, 3rd in the world and in search of a 23rd Grand Slam title, qualified for his 12th semi-final at Roland-Garros on Tuesday by beating Karen Khachanov (11th) 4-6, 7-6 (7/0 ), 6-2, 6-4.
“He was better for the majority of the first two sets. I struggled to get into the match, but I managed a perfect tie-break,” commented Djokovic, believing that the decisive game marked the turning point Match. “I tried to be unpredictable and I’m happy to have gotten out of it,” he admitted after signing his 90th victory on Parisian clay where only the master of the place Rafael Nadal did better ( 112).
The 36-year-old Serb now awaits the other favorite in Nadal’s absence, Carlos Alcaraz, for the big shock of the tournament. The world No.1 still has to face in the evening quarterfinals the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (5th), finalist in 2021. Djokovic will thus play his twelfth half at Roland-Garros where only Nadal has done better (15 for 14 titles). He will also play his 45th half in Grand Slam and there, only Roger Federer did better (46).
“Djoko” slow to enter the game
Tuesday against Khachanov, the Serb took time to enter the game. In the first set, he got no break point while he lost one out of the seven he had to defend. He also committed 17 unforced errors for 12 winning shots. In the second set, everyone held their face-off without conceding a single break point, but in the tie-break Djokovic was untouchable. The Serb still committed a significant number of unforced errors (14), but he balanced with the same number of winners. He clearly raised his game in the third set and regained his efficiency.
He served 4 aces, did not commit any double faults, won 91% of the points played on his first ball and 100% on his second, scored two breaks without conceding a single break point, managed 19 winning shots for a single direct fault. And concluded the round with a furious smash. The Serbian took the lead early in the fourth set by earning the break to lead 2-1.
A power exchange that turned into a cat-and-mouse game at the net and finally ended with a tweener from Khachanov and a volley into the net from Djokovic on the ball 3-1 for the Serb. audience. Djokovic regretted on the microphone after his victory his lack of efficiency on this particular point. But two points later he nevertheless confirmed his break to lead 3-1, not without having saved two break points.
Then he had two balls for 5-2, but the Russian fielded four points to come back to 4-3. And on a double fault, Djokovic offered him the break (4-4). The Serb, however, won the match in 3:38 and after giving up his first set of the tournament. For his part, Khachanov who had climbed into the last four of the last two Grand Slam tournaments (US Open 2022 and Australian Open in January) will not succeed in passing three.
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