Djokovic battles through to book Verdasco showdown
Novak Djokovic will meet Fernando Verdasco in the last 16 at Roland Garros after overcoming Roberto Bautista Agut in Friday's Third Round meeting in Paris.
Novak Djokovic booked his place in the fourth round of the French Open with a hard-fought victory over Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday. The 20th seed reached the last 16 – where he will face Fernando Verdasco – at Roland Garros for the 12th time in his career after triumphing 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.
Djokovic slogs it out to make the next round
Yet the Serbian - who cruised past Rogerio Dutra Silva and Jaume Munar in the previous rounds - was on court for three hours and 48 minutes before finally recording a fourth successive win over Bautista Agut on clay. Djokovic claimed a close opening set, clinching the first break in the match in the 10th game to move ahead. When he gained control early in the second, a third successive straight-sets victory in the French capital looked on the cards.
However, Bautista Agut – seeded 13th – hit back, grabbing a break of his own before staving off three set points and prevailing in a tense tie-break thanks to an error from his opponent. Djokovic smashed his racquet after missing a simple forehand close to the net and there were further signs of frustration when he fell behind early in the next set, too.
But the 12-time grand slam champion overcame the odd lapse to triumph, taking the third via a tie-break after Bautista Agut failed to serve it out and then breezing through the fourth. A drop of serve when in position to win the match did not matter for Djokovic, though, as Bautista Agut was broken in the next game, sending him through to a tie with Verdasco.
Verdasco had earlier demonstrated his class on clay with a straightforward win over disillusioned fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Spaniard had saved four set points in the opener on his way to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-4 triumph, with Dimitrov - knocked out in the third round for a second successive year - declaring afterwards he will be taking a break from the sport.