Djokovic beats Musetti in 3:07am finish in Paris

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point against Lorenzo Musetti

Novak Djokovic won the French Open in 2016, 2021 and 2023 [Reuters]

Novak Djokovic came through a five-set epic against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti at the French Open, which ended at 03:07 local time in Paris.

In a third-round contest that did not start until 22:37 on Saturday, towards the end of a rain-affected day at Roland Garros, the defending champion fought back from two sets to one down to win 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-0.

The 37-year-old from Serbia appeared to be on the brink of exiting the tournament at the hands of an inspired Musetti, the 30th seed.

But a rejuvenated Djokovic found fresh momentum midway through the fourth set, reeling off six consecutive breaks of serve to force – and then ease to victory in – a decider.

There was a warm embrace between the pair at the conclusion of the match, with Djokovic joining the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd in applauding his 22-year-old opponent in what was the latest finish in French Open history.

Victory in four hours and 29 minutes continued the world number one’s bid for a fourth French Open crown and he will play 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina in the last 16.

“I don’t want to get into it [the schedule]. I have my opinions but I think there are great things to talk about in this match today,” said Djokovic.

“Both Lorenzo and my performances stand out so I don’t want to be talking about the schedule. I think some things could have been handled a different way but there’s also a beauty in winning a match [so late].”

As a teenager, Musetti pushed Djokovic close in the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2021 before retiring injured in the fifth set.

The 22-year-old started quickly on this occasion too, breaking serve in the third game of the match, although Djokovic responded immediately in kind and then outlasted his opponent in a lengthy rally to convert his first set point.

But Musetti fought back from 4-1 in the second set and saved a set point on Djokovic’s serve in the tie-break on his way to levelling the match, before then breaking twice in the third set to move within one of victory.

At 2-2 in the fourth, while Musetti’s level barely dropped, Djokovic drew on his many years of experience to find an extra gear and victory was wrapped up with a stunning crosscourt forehand return winner.

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