Djokovic Loses First Set At Roland Garros But Keeps Dream Of 23rd Grand Slam Alive

Djokovic Loses First Set At Roland Garros But Keeps Dream Of 23rd Grand Slam Alive

by Evita Mueller

Last updated

Novak Djokovic was not stopped by Karen Khachanov in the 2023 Roland Garros quarterfinals despite an inspired performance.

It was 10th meeting on the ATP Tour for Djokovic and Khachanov, and for the fourth time, it was played in Paris as also their last meeting happened at the Paris Masters in 2022. In the previous nine matches, the Russian managed to win once, and it was the French capital where that happened.

But at the 2023 Roland Garros, the Serb was yet to lose a set as he was playing almost perfectly so far. But Khachanov was determined to change that, as he was also playing a great tournament since overcoming a 0-2 deficit in the first round.

And that's exactly what the Russian did in the first set. He broke Djokovic's serve in the fifth game and never allowed him to have break points. Khachanov hit more winners than unforced errors (11-8), and also won 88% of points after his first serve.

All of that compounded for the player, who is set to re-enter the Top 10 after more than three years after the tournament. Thanks to that, he was able to win the first set 6-4 and get off to a good start against the 36-year-old.

But Djokovic is the most experienced player left in the draw and also the most decorated player. And in the second set, he showed why. The first twelve games were maybe a bit boring for the crowd on the Court Philippe-Chatrier as there were no break points and the set had to be decided in a tie-break.

Djokovic dominated what he later called 'a perfect tie-break', winning it 7-0 and starting his comeback. That continued with a nearly flawless performance in the third set when he lost only one point on his serve and hit incredible 19 winners while making only one unforced error.

The two-time Roland Garros champion was able to win the third set 6-2 and he go off to a good start also in the fourth set, leading 4-2, and 40-15 early on. But showing signs of a comeback, Khachanov leveled the score at four-all, just to witness his opponent win the last eight points of the match.

After three hours and 43 minutes, Djokovic won the match 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-4 and punched his ticket to the last four at the 2023 Roland Garros.

Up next, Djokovic will await for either the first-seeded Carlos Alcaraz or the fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas. No matter which player he'll have to play against, it will be certainly a significant challenge for the Serb.

This time, it seemed that the 22-time Grand Slam champion won't delight the Parisian crowd with a French interview as the tournament organizers picked Mats Wilander to interview him as he summed up his match and the slow start.

"It was also due to his quality of tennis. I think he was a better player for most of the two sets. I was struggling on the court to find rhythm, made a lot of unforced errors, came into the match quite slow, quite sluggish. But I played a perfect tie-break and from that moment onwards I played a couple levels higher than I did at the beginning."

But the former Swedish player soon switched to French and so did Djokovic, showcasing not just his tennis skills on the tennis court but also his language skills after the match while listening to cheers from the happy crowd.


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