Novak Djokovic was put to the test but continued to get better as the match progressed to register a marathon 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the third round of the 2023 French Open.
The first two sets took close to three hours as the Roland Garros crowd was treated to some high-class action with both players attempting to test each other's defense with powerful baseline strokes.
The engaging contest was also the longest-ever straight-sets win of Djokovic's career at a Grand Slam, surpassing a 3-hour, 16-minute battle that the Serb was involved in against Juan Del Potro at the 2018 US Open.
"A new milestone: This was the longest *straight-sets* win of Novak Djokovic's career at Grand Slam level. 3 hours 36 minutes - 2023 Roland-Garros R3 vs ADF 3 hours 16 minutes - 2018 US Open final vs Del Potro"
Back in 2018, Djokovic got past a drained and distraught Del Potro, who fought hard only to go down 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, even as the Serbinator bagged his 14th Grand Slam title in New York.
On Court Philippe Chatrier, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina faltered twice in the all-important tie-break in the first couple of sets before failing to carry the initial momentum into the third.
The 36-year-old, who called for a medical timeout to have his knee retaped in the second set, came into his own in the third set to progress through to the fourth round.
Despite being put to the test at times by Aleksander Kocacevic and Marton Fucsovis, Novak Djokovic is yet to drop a set at the 2023 French Open.
Novak Djokovic into a Grand Slam second week for the 21st straight time
Novak Djokovic remains on course for a 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2023 French Open despite not having had a great time on the red dirt this season.
Following the hard-fought win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the World No. 3 has advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 17th time overall.
"Novak Djokovic still on a mission in Paris as he beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after 3h 35, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2, He’s into the French Open R4 for the 17th time, having done so in all the last 14 seasons, into a Grand Slam 2nd week for the 21st straight time"
Djoker was touted to win against Rafael Nadal, who was hampered by pain at last year's Paris Grand Slam. However, Djokovic failed to get past the Spaniard, who eventually clinched a record-extending 14th French Open title.
In the absence of the King of Clay, the 22-time Grand Slam champion remains one of the favorites to bag the title at Roland Garros but will need to get past World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, whom he could end up playing in the semifinals.