Novak Djokovic reacted to his five-set US Open win in the early hours of Saturday morning against fellow Serbian Laslo Djere with mixed emotions.
“Of course winning a match is always better than losing a match. It’s as simple as that,” Djokovic said. “I think the message is sent to the rest of the field that obviously I’m still able to play five sets deep at night. Coming from two sets down always sends a strong message to the future opponents.
“At the same time I’m not really wanting to be in this position, to be honest. I prefer a straight-sets win. Hopefully I can get back on that track in the next match.”
Djokovic Recovers Two-Set Deficit, Downs Djere At US Open
There is good news for Djokovic, who will next play Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo. At four of the Grand Slam tournaments where he has rallied from two sets down, he has gone on to lift the trophy. He accomplished the feat at the 2011 US Open, 2015 Wimbledon, 2021 Roland Garros (two two-set comebacks) and 2022 Wimbledon.
His 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Djere was the eighth two-set comeback of his career. But despite all his experience, being that far down is never a nice feeling.
“I’m not sure I have a mental edge from two sets down. Maybe when I won the third, I felt like maybe I’m back in the match, I kind of got him, if I can say so,” Djokovic said. “But he was fighting. He stayed cool and composed. He didn’t show too many emotions in a way. He didn’t, I would say, lose it somehow. He just was very consistent.
“I feel like I raised my level and was reading his game slightly better in the third, fourth and fifth than I have in the first two sets.
I think I served well when I needed to, especially in the fifth. It was only one break. He had a break point to come back to the match. It was a nerve-wracking last game, so relieved to get this one.”
Djokovic’s Two-Set Comebacks
|’23 US Open||R3||Djere||46 46 61 61 63|
|’22 Wimbledon*||QF||Sinner||57 26 63 62 62|
|’21 R. Garros*||F||Tsitsipas||67 26 63 62 64|
|’21 R. Garros*||R4||Musetti||66 67 61 60 40 ret.|
|’15 Wimbledon*||R4||Anderson||67 67 61 64 75|
|’12 R. Garros||R4||Seppi||46 67 63 75 63|
|’11 US Open*||SF||Federer||67 46 63 62 75|
|’05 Wimbledon||R2||G-Lopez||36 36 76 76 64|
* Won title
Djokovic was highly complimentary of his opponent, Djere, who was trying to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time. But the three-time US Open champion also shouldered some of the blame.
“To be honest, I could have and should have played better, on a high level in these two sets, but huge credit to him for making me uncomfortable on the court and playing really some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play,” Djokovic said. “Congrats to him. Tough luck to him. I told him at the net he should keep going because if he’s going to continue playing this way, he’s only going to work his way up in the rankings.
“He’s a terrific guy, works extremely hard. Tonight he shows that he deserves to be ranked much higher than he is.”