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

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 match 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 have 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.


Fellow Serbians Novak Djokovic and Laslo Djere meet in the third round of this year’s US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the 2023 season. Speaking to Eurosport, former world No. 1 Justine Henin does not think that Djere has enough to threaten Djokovic, and the knockout match is mainly notable for the two players sharing the same home country.

Former world No. 1 Justine Henin thinks that Novak Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite in his US Open third round match-up against Laslo Djere.

Djokovic had little trouble as he overcame Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round, and Henin, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, believes it’ll be a similar story in New York for the 36-year-old.

Back in 2022, Djere made Djokovic work extremely hard for a 2-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) win in Belgrade – but Henin suggested it may not be as close this time.

She said: “I don’t know if we can call it a test. I am sure that Novak will take this match very seriously.

“He is a solid player, of course he is from Serbia. We always know that playing a person from our country is always a bit special. Of course, they played a tight match in Serbia last year, but still I think Djere is not a Grand Slam specialist and Novak knows how to deal with this kind of situation.”

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Djokovic is yet to drop a set, and Henin continued: “He looks in good shape. Conditions were a bit tough for him in the second round, but I’m sure he is used to it. So for me it’s not a test.

“It’s just a solid match to play and very interesting to see how they can deal with the emotions of playing someone for the same country.”

Henin noted that for Djere it is an unusual experience because he will have looked to his upcoming opponent as an inspiration, given their shared backgrounds.

“But the experience from Novak is huge. Yeah, and of course, for Laslo Djere, Novak Djokovic is a big role model, so there’s a lot of respect there as well, which is also never easy to play against one of your big role models and idols.” 

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