Houdini Act: Djokovic Narrowly Avoids Shock Defeat At Paris Masters

Houdini Act: Djokovic Narrowly Avoids Shock Defeat At Paris Masters

by Erik Virostko

Novak Djokovic had to dig really deep during his third-round match against Tallon Griekspoor at the 2023 Paris Masters.

The last ATP Masters 1000 event of the season is known for some major upsets, and one of those happened already at this year's tournament when Carlos Alcaraz crashed out in his opening match.

For the top-seeded Djokovic, that meant that he would stay the world no. 1 also after the tournament, but that's certainly not his main goal in Paris. That's obviously his seventh title at the Paris Masters, something that the announcer in the French capital hilariously predicted by mistakenly calling the Serb a seven-time champion.

However, there are many guys that want to stop him on that journey towards the seventh title, and one of them was also the Dutch player, who defeated Christopher Eubanks and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on his way to the third round.

On the other hand, the 24-time Grand Slam champion played only one match, defeating Tomas Martin Etcheverry from Argentina. But the lack of match practice was not palpable in Djokovic's game early in the match.

The 36-year-old had a swift start into the match, breaking his opponent's first service game, and leading 3-0 early in the match. After both players held their serves, the Serbian led 4-1, and things looked to be under his control.

Yet, Griekspoor was there to play, and he did. The Dutch player showed his undeniable qualities and won five consecutive games to win the first set 6-4, something that Djokovic also helped him to achieve due to his surprisingly below-par performance in the second part of the opener.

Griekspoor managed to keep his level quite high also in the second set. He had a break point in the opening game, and even though that remained unused, the Dutch player got the biggest chance of his match in the ninth game of the second set.

The world no. 23 was leading 40-15 on his opponent's serve, with two break points, which were also small match points, considering he would immediately serve to win the match.

However, Djokovic once again showed his greatness, saving both break points, and in the tie-break, there was only one outcome, and that was the top seed's commanding win, 7-2.

After what happened in the first two sets, the third set was a real rollercoaster too. First, Djokovic broke to lead 4-2, and he had a chance to increase that one-break lead to two breaks with another break point in the seventh game.

But after the Serbian superstar left his break point unused, he faced a break point in the following game, and he didn't deal with the pressure well, committing a double fault, and giving his opponent a break back.

But that didn't last for too long. Djokovic teased the crowd before his opponent was about to serve at 4-4, and they didn't wait for the second invitation to boo the world no. 1, who used it as a fuel to his engine.

That fuel was enough for Djokovic to completely dominate in the last part of the match, winning eight consecutive points to win the match 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, and secure his spot in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Paris Masters.


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