Djokovic survives ouster by fellow Serbian Laslo Djere

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic raised his level of tennis early Saturday at the US Open as he came back from two sets down to escape a third round defeat by compatriot Laslo Djere.

The match at Arthur Ashe Stadium court which lasted three-hours, 45-minutes saw Djokovic winning 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to qualify for the 4th round..

He virtually snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in front of the record crowd.

It marked the 38th time Djokovic has won a five-setter and kept alive the 36-year-old’s quest for a fourth U.S. Open crown that would pull him level with Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 Grand Slams.

Laslo Djere: gave Djokovic the scare
Laslo Djere: gave Djokovic the scare

Djokovic had looked imperious in his opening two matches surrendering only 11 games in blowout wins over Frenchman Alexandre Muller and Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles but his 32nd seeded countryman proved a far tougher test.

The two Serbs had only clashed once before that in Belgrade last year but there were signs then that Djere was a danger, with the contest needing three sets and two tie-breaks before Djokovic claim the win.

Djere signalled to Djokovic he was in for more of the same on Friday when he broke the second-seed to start the match and then held his nerve the rest of set for an unexpected and well-earned 1-0 lead.

Facing one of the greatest players of all-time under the bright lights of tennis’s biggest stage, a fearless Djere could not be rattled piling on the pressure with another break to go up 4-3 in the second on the way to a 2-0 lead that left Arthur Ashe Stadium stunned.

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Djokovic was not without his opportunities, but did not capitalise on his chances until backed into a corner.

With the crowd still buzzing Djokovic came out for the third set with an urgency and energy missing in the opening two sets, breaking Djere at the first opportunity and again to go up 4-0 on the way to cutting the deficit to 2-1.

With cracks in Djere’s game starting to appear, Djokovic continued to dial up the pressure breaking again to open the fourth set pulling a mighty fist pump from the 36-year-old.

But Djere was not done immediately breaking back, setting the stage for what was a marathon third game that saw Djokovic regain control with yet another break.

Moving in for the kill Djokovic swept the next six games to take the fourth set and a 2-0 lead in the decisive fifth that he would never surrender.

Novak told the crowd about his off-court pep talk midway through the match: “I did a little pep talk in the mirror,” he said. “I kind of laughed at myself because I was so pissed off and agitated. I had to kind of force myself to lift myself up.

I’ve done it a few times before in my career and it worked. A few times it didn’t work. Tonight it did.”

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