Djokovic advances into French Open Quarter-Finals through five set thriller
Novak Djokovic survived the first real scare of his French Open challenge after he stormed back from two sets down against youngster Lorenzo Musetti before the Italian had to retire through injury.
The Serbian world no. 1 won an astonishing 19 points in a row between the third and fourth sets as he showed why he's an 18-time Grand Slam champion to fight back after losing the first two sets on a tie-break.
Musetti had to concede to injury in the fifth set at with the score sitting at 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 to Djokovic.
Djokovic will now face another Italian in a rested Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals after a walkover due to Roger Federer's withdrawal from the men's draw.
The top seed started the match well, breaking his younger opponent in just the fourth game. But Musetti raced back, showing his class with some massive backhand winners to break straight back.
The 19-year-old man from Carrara, Italy, was more than a match for his more illustrious rival across the net & both players slogged out the rest of the first set holding serve to take the set into a tie-break.
Amazingly, in his professional career, Musetti had never lost a tie-breaker and went into this one with an 8-0 record. He made that nine when he took the set on his third set point.
The second set followed a similar theme, with Musetti taking the early initiative, breaking Djokovic to 30.
But the Serb broke back immediately, determined not to let Musetti gain any momentum.
Another tie-breaker was imminent & this time, the Italian was far more dominant, winning 7-2 to maintain his 100% record in breakers and take the 2nd set to lead by two.
Whatever Djokovic did during his toilet break worked, as he came out like a man on a mission with an all-new intensity to his game. Musetti began to look lost and struggled to cope with the Serb's shot variety.
Djokovic's experience in Grand Slam's was starting to show & he claimed the third set in 26 minutes, Musetti only claiming one game.
The fourth was even worse for the world no. 76 as he failed to register a game and didn't even gain a point until the fifth game of the set. Djokovic only dropped four points & it was over in just 18 minutes.
Musetti took an MTO before the fifth set, although it still wasn't evident what the problem was.
But midway through the decider and having again lost his serve twice, Musetti stopped and began to hobble to the net, knowing he couldn't continue.
Djokovic will now face no. 9 seed Berrettini, another stern test he must pass if he is to achieve his goal of winning a second Roland Garros title and a 19th Grand Slam.