The Serb won in three sets in both of his previous matches in Paris this year. First, he bested Aleksandar Kovacevic from the United States, and then, he was better than Marton Fucsovics, also winning in three sets.
But in the third round, he played against a player that defeated him on the ATP Tour before, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. In fact, the Spaniard won the last time the two played and clearly believed in himself ahead of the match.
And that confidence showed early on as Davidovich Fokina was the first player to break in the match. After the 22-time Grand Slam champion broke back, the Spaniard pushed the pedal to the metal once more, but he could never use the one-break advantage to finish off the set.
Therefore, the first set had to be decided in a tie-break. The 29th seed led 3-1 in the tie-break, but ultimately, Djokovic prevailed with all of his weapons, winning it 7-4 and taking the first set after an hour and 25 minutes.
In the second set, both players had a one-break advantage and Davidovich Fokina even had a set point in the twelfth game. But once again, none of the chances ended up being used and so fans on Court Philippe-Chatrier saw yet another tie-break.
This time, the Spaniard led again, this time 5-4, but his opponent used the experience to his advantage once more, winning the tie-break 7-5 and jumping ahead by two sets. After winning the set, Djokovic celebrated wildly and subsequently requested a medical time out, something that was not appreciated by the French crowd that started booing him.
But earlier at the tournament, Djokovic said that not having a drama-free major drives him and he showed it once again. The crowd's boos fueled his performance as he played the best set to win the match 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-2, and book a fourth-round spot at the 2023 Roland Garros. After the match, he praised his opponent, but also acknowledged the difficulty of the match.
"Well, I knew that it was going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match. He's an amazing fighter, an amazing player, not many weaknesses in his game. So congratulations to him for fighting, bad luck, but he played a good match."
One thing that made the Serb a bit scared was the fact that the first two sets were played for nearly three hours. If he would have lost the second-set tie-break, it could have been a real marathon, which he was happy to avoid.
"Of course, a win is a win. Maybe a little bit too much the first two sets, three hours, honestly, I thought that if I would lose the second set we would have probably played five hours today. But I'm proud of the performance today, for sure."