Djokovic Outlasts Musetti In Historic Roland-Garros Late-Night Thriller

Novak Djokovic (photo: Roland-Garros video)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, June 2, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Lorenzo Musetti made Roland-Garros history in the middle of the night in Paris early Sunday.

Competing for a spot in the fourth round, in a featured Saturday night session match that began two hours late due to a scheduling back up, top-seeded Djokovic and No. 30 seed Musetti set a French Open record for latest finished match in tournament history.

It was won by Djokovic, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, with a second-shot forehand winner, which left him in the hunt to defend his French Open title and win career major No. 25.

The two competitors – Djokovic, 37, and Musetti, 22 – walked out on Court Philippe-Chatrier just after 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and after playing five sets that lasted four hours and 29 minutes, it ended at 3:06 a.m. Sunday. Djokovic improved to 39-11 in five-set matches.

The Djokovic-Musetti finish time shattered the old latest finish record in Paris of 1:26 a.m., set by Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner in 2020.

After Djokovic squandered a set point for a two-sets lead, he soon found himself down two-sets-to-one to the young Italian – 15 years his junior – who showed fresher legs and benefited from the slow playing conditions with the roof closed.

However, the Serbian icon was the stronger player – at least mentally and, maybe, physically – by the end. He outpointed Musetti 150-134, which included 44 winners – nine fewer than his opponent.

On Monday, Djokovic will face No. 23 seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina, who eliminated No. 14 seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, in two hours and 50 minutes on Court 7 Saturday evening to reach the fourth round for the second consecutive year.

Djokovic must reach the Roland-Garros final in order to have a chance of remaining No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings at the conclusion of the tournament.

Ruud burns the midnight oil to beat Etcheverry

Seventh seed Casper Ruud of Norway defeated 28th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, in two hours and 46 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen for his 20th win of the season on clay. The third-round match, which was the sixth match of the day and night on the second-largest show court at Stade Roland-Garros, finished shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Ruud, who outpointed Etcheverry 113-97, hit 41 winners to 37 for his opponent.

In the fourth round, Ruud will face last American standing Taylor Fritz. The No. 12 seed from California needed three hours and 48 minutes to win a highly-entertaining 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 5-7, 6-3 third-round match over No. 100 Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia on Court 14.

Fritz struck 56 winners to Kokkinakis’ 57 in their first meeting since 2018. However, it was Fritz who came out ahead in the end to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time.

Around Roland-Garros

Although much of the men’s doubles draw has been affected by the numerous rain delays, which have caused scheduling nightmares for tournament organizers, top seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina beat the rain on Saturday to advance to the third round.

Under heavy conditions on Court 12, the Spanish/Argentine duo won 7-6 (3), 6-2 in an hour and 22 minutes over unseeded Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler of Austria.

Granollers and Zeballos are looking to win their first major title together. Earlier this month, they won their sixth ATP Masters 1000 crown as a team in Rome.

Saturday’s Roland-Garros results

Sunday’s Roland-Garros order of play

By the numbers

Novak Djokovic, the all-time men’s Grand Slam title leader with 24, has tied Roger Federer for most Grand Slam match wins in history with 369 following his five-set, late-night victory moved Lorenzo Musetti.

“Quotable …”

“I love tennis and I love Roland Garros. But I’m not sure if I love playing at 1 a.m., but the fans are here so I have to be here. Thank you everyone for coming!”

Casper Ruud of Norway, during his late-night on-court interview, following his four-set win over Tomas Martin Etcheverry.