US Open 2023: Novak Djokovic erases 2-set deficit to survive late-night thriller vs. Laslo Djere

Novak Djokovic tasted victory at 1:32 a.m. ET Friday. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Novak Djokovic tasted victory at 1:32 a.m. ET Friday. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Anyone who thought they might be seeing a titanic upset in the third round of the US Open on Friday should know better by now. It takes a lot more than a good night to defeat Novak Djokovic.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion made a late-night, three-and-a-half hour, five-set comeback win look easy against Serbian countryman Laslo Djere, erasing a two-set deficit to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

Djere, ranked No. 38 in the world, began the match looking like an even threat and then some against Djokovic, beating him in the baseline game that has made the current world No. 2 an all-time great. He outmaneuvered him on a number of points with an aggression that paid off repeatedly.

In the first two sets, Djere posted more winners than Djokovic (22-15) with fewer unforced errors (16-18) while winning 12 of 14 points at the net and 11 of 21 points on Djokovic's second serve.

Fortunately for Djokovic, it was a five-set match.

Djokovic came out in the third set with a statement break in the second game and just kept hammering away at his fellow Serb.

Despite being eight years younger than the 36-year-old Djokovic, it was Djere who looked gassed as the match went on, and the mistakes followed. So many would-be winners for Djere were sent into the net. So many points ended with ill-advised decisions. After playing clean but risky tennis, Djere finished the match with 57 unforced errors and plenty to regret.

Had Djokovic lost, it would've been his earliest exit in a Grand Slam since his second-round loss in the 2017 Australian Open, an upset so shocking it's in the first paragraph of the victor's Wikipedia page. It was the first match Djokovic won at the US Open after going down 2-0 since 2011. His opponent was Roger Federer.

Djokovic will face qualifier Borna Gojo in the fourth round.