US Open: Novak Djokovic rallied from two sets down against compatriot Laslo Djere.© AFP
Novak Djokovic rallied from two sets down against compatriot Laslo Djere to avoid his earliest US Open exit since 2006 on Friday. Djokovic tapped into his unrivalled powers of recovery to reach the last 16 and keep alive his quest for a record-extending men’s 24th Grand Slam crown with a 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win over the 32nd-seeded Djere. “It was one of the toughest matches I’ve played here in many years,” said Djokovic.
After coasting through two rounds, Djokovic risked failing to make the second week in New York for the first time since losing to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round as a teenager 17 years ago.
An inspired Djere broke in the opening game en route to bagging the first set and did so again midway through the second set to put the 28-year-old in sight of an improbable victory.
But Djokovic showed why he will reclaim the world number one ranking after the tournament, displaying his trademark resilience to wriggle his way out of a two-set hole for the eighth time in his career at a Grand Slam.
The only other time he escaped such a predicament at the US Open came when he won the first of his three titles in 2011 after saving two match points against Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Djokovic revealed he had given himself an angry pep talk in the locker room after falling two sets behind.
“I did a little pep talk in the mirror,” he said. “I laughed at myself because I was so pissed off with the way I played, to try and lift my spirits up.
“I’ve done it a few times before in my career and it hasn’t worked but tonight it did and I’m grateful.”
The 36-year-old Serbian star goes on to face 105th-ranked Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo for a spot in the quarter-finals.
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