Novak Djokovic Battles Through Knee Injury to Secure Record 370th Grand Slam Win

Novak Djokovic Battles Through Knee Injury to Secure Record 370th Grand Slam Win

Novak Djokovic overcomes a knee injury and a determined opponent to achieve his 370th Grand Slam win at the French Open. Discover how Djokovic’s resilience and skill led to a dramatic five-set victory.

Djokovic’s Grit and Determination on Full Display at Roland Garros

Early in the second set of his French Open match on Monday, Novak Djokovic was lying on his back at the sidelines, grimacing as a trainer manipulated his injured right knee. The concern was palpable: he might have to quit the match.

Despite stumbling, limping, and trailing by a set and a break to a younger opponent, Djokovic managed to bounce back. He credited the turnaround to the maximum dose of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication allowed by the tournament doctor.

Persisting through the pain, Djokovic ultimately triumphed, securing a five-set victory in about 4 1/2 hours for the second match in a row. He defeated No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the fourth round at Roland Garros, marking his record 370th win in a Grand Slam match. Yet, he expressed uncertainty about his ability to play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what will happen tomorrow — or after tomorrow, if I’ll be able to step out on the court and play,” the 37-year-old Djokovic said. “You know, I hope so. Let’s see what happens.”

Djokovic revealed that his knee had been troublesome for weeks due to wear and tear, and it worsened during the match against Cerundolo. He took a medical timeout early in the second set, received treatment during changeovers, and was given more medication after the third set.

“I didn’t know, to be honest,” Djokovic said, “whether I should continue or not.”

Eventually, the medication took effect, allowing him to move freely and improve his performance.

This was the second consecutive five-set comeback for Djokovic, who is currently ranked No. 1 and is the defending champion in Paris. He noted that the cumulative time on court wasn’t the issue; his knee was.

Djokovic is set to face No. 7 seed Casper Ruud on Wednesday. Ruud, who ousted No. 12 Taylor Fritz 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday, previously lost to Djokovic in last year’s French Open final and to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final.

“The effect of the medications will not last for too long, so I’ll see,” Djokovic said. “I guess we’ll do some more screening and tests and checkups tomorrow.”

Concerns about his health overshadowed another monumental achievement. By defeating Cerundolo, Djokovic broke his tie with Roger Federer for the most match wins at major tournaments and the most Slam quarterfinals for a man, reaching his 59th.

However, it was a close call. Djokovic was down two sets to one and trailing by a break at 4-2 in the fourth, just two games from defeat.

“I was,” Djokovic said afterward, “maybe three or four points away from losing this match.”

Still, Djokovic prevailed, showcasing the resilience that has earned him 24 major trophies, including three at the French Open. His ability to turn matches around and excel under pressure is well-documented. Djokovic boasts a 40-11 record in fifth sets, compared to Cerundolo’s 1-3, making the outcome less surprising.

“Really, the toughest guy ever to play tennis,” Cerundolo said. “He always finds a way to come back and play his best tennis at the toughest moments and at the end of every match.”

At 2-1 in the fifth set, Djokovic slipped while chasing a ball, covering himself in rust-colored clay. He voiced his frustration to anyone who would listen, complaining about the court’s traction and requesting more frequent sweeping.

“Well done, supervisor and everybody,” Djokovic said sarcastically. “Not slippery at all.”

He reiterated his concerns at his news conference, emphasizing that his injury could have been prevented with better court maintenance.

“I mean, today I injured myself. Yes, I survived. I won the match. Great. But will I be able to play next one?” he said, tapping his palms on a table for emphasis. “I don’t know. I don’t know the severity of the injury. But could have this injury be prevented? Possibly, if there was just a little bit more of a frequent care of the court during the set.”

In the third round, Djokovic overcame No. 30 Lorenzo Musetti in a match that finished after 3 a.m., the latest in French Open history.

The Uncertain Road Ahead: Djokovic’s Quarterfinal Prospects

Against Cerundolo, a 25-year-old from Argentina aiming for his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Djokovic utilized all his skills, experience, and adaptability. He ultimately won by increasing the speed of his groundstrokes.

From 3-all in the fifth set, Djokovic dominated, winning every remaining game. He broke to lead 5-3 with a forehand winner that barely stayed in bounds, prompting chair umpire Aurélie Tourte to climb down and check.

Wednesday’s other men’s quarterfinal will feature Alex de Minaur against Alexander Zverev or Holger Rune. The women’s quarterfinals will see Aryna Sabalenka vs. Mirra Andreeva, and Elena Rybakina vs. Jasmine Paolini.

Under a clear azure sky with temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius), a shift from the tournament’s chillier, rainier conditions, Djokovic and Cerundolo began their match in the late afternoon.

Djokovic’s comeback started in the evening at 4-3 in the fourth set when he hit a winner to earn a break point, igniting roars from the crowd, and converted when Cerundolo netted a shot. Djokovic raised his racket overhead as the crowd chanted his nickname, “No-le! No-le!”

Despite arriving in Paris with a 14-6 record in 2024 and no tournament finals, Djokovic continues to prove his prowess at Grand Slams. His past two matches required over 9 hours and 10 sets, yet he remains a formidable opponent as long as he can take the court.

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Nicholas Edwards

Nicholas Edwards is a passionate writer with a keen interest in sports and business news. With a knack for delivering insightful and engaging content, Nicholas keeps his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in these dynamic fields. His enthusiasm for both sports and business shines through in his writing, making complex topics accessible to a wide audience. Whether it's dissecting the latest game-changing play or analyzing market trends, Nicholas brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of knowledge to his articles. Email @

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