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Djokovic grinds past Cerundolo to reach last eight at French Open

For the best part of two hours on Monday afternoon, Novak Djokovic seemed destined to be parting from his French open crown as he limped and languished his way through the third and fourth sets against the 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo.

But the 25-year-old Argentine failed to kill him off and the 37-year-old Serb recovered to complete an extraordinary 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory in four hours and 39 minutes.

At 3.08am on Sunday morning, Djokovic finished a five-set match against the 30th seed Lorenzo Musetti on Court Philippe Chatrier.

There were few signs of that four-and-a-half-hour combat during the early stages of the fourth round encounter on the same court.

Djokovic, seeking a record 25th singles title at a Grand Slam tournament, saved a couple of break points on his way to a 2-1 lead with his customary fortitude and Cerundolo cracked. Djokovic cruised to 5-1 and wrapped up the opener after 40 minutes with a slick half volley on his fourth set point.

Assistance

During the second set, medical stgaff came out twice to massage Djokovic's right knee but he held firm until the end of the set when a second double fault and a sloppy forehand gave Cerundolo two set points.

A cute serve and volley routine saved one of them but a forehand into the tramlines offered Cerundolo the set 7-5 and level pegging.

During the third, it was clear Djokovic was in trouble. His renowned elasticity and élan had vanished.

Cerundolo had a point for a double break but failed to take the chance for a comfort zone. Djokovic, despite the handicap, kept within sight and his energy: several strokes were simply abandoned.

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