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Novak Djokovic injured in French Open five-setter, unsure about playing quarterfinal

An injured Novak Djokovic rallied to win a second consecutive five-set match at the French Open, moving three match wins from a record-breaking 25th Grand Slam singles title.

Due to a right knee injury, he isn’t 100% sure he will play his next match Wednesday, a 2023 final rematch with Norwegian Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals.

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

Djokovic outlasted 23rd seed Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in more than four and a half hours on Monday.

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The match began 37 hours after Djokovic won his third-round match in five sets — also from two sets to one down — in the latest finish in French Open history: 3:06 a.m.

Djokovic, 37, played back-to-back five-set matches for the first time since the 2012 French Open.

“How did I find the way to win again? I don’t know. The only explanation I have is you,” Djokovic told the crowd. “Thank you.”

In the second set, Djokovic grabbed at his right leg just below the knee and had the leg treated during a medical timeout. He said that, at one point, he didn’t know whether to continue playing.

“For the last couple weeks I have had, I would say, slight discomfort, I would call it that way, in the right knee, but I haven’t had an injury that would be concerning me at all,” he said. “I was playing a few tournaments with it, and no issues until today. Of course late finish from few nights ago didn’t help the sleeping, the biorhythm, and recovery, but I actually felt great coming into the match, as good as I could under the circumstances and played really well first set. Then in the third game of the second set, I slipped, one of the many times that I slipped and fell today. That affected the knee.”

Djokovic said he received a “maximum dose” of medication combined in the second set and again after the third set, which kicked in at the end of the fourth set, and he was “almost without any pain” for the basically the whole fifth set.

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

He came back for a 370th Grand Slam singles match win and 59th Grand Slam quarterfinal, breaking ties with Roger Federer in both categories for the most in the professional era.

Djokovic must win the French Open to hold off Australian Open champ Jannik Sinner for the No. 1 world ranking. He hasn’t made a tournament final in 2024.

Ruud took out No. 12 Taylor Fritz, ensuring no American men made the quarterfinals for a 21st consecutive year. The last to do it was Andre Agassi.

Also Monday, Alex de Minaur upset fifth seed Daniil Medvedev to become the first Australian man to make the French Open quarterfinals in 20 years.

De Minaur, who is seeded 11th, prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 to reach his second career Grand Slam quarterfinal and first since the 2020 U.S. Open.

The last Australian man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Lleyton Hewitt in 2004.

De Minaur gets No. 4 Alexander Zverev or No. 13 Holger Rune in the quarters.

Aryna Sabalenka’s dominant run continued with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Emma Navarro to reach the quarterfinals.

The Belarusian, ranked second in the world, is now one win away from her seventh straight Grand Slam semifinal appearance. She will face the winner of the match between Varvara Gracheva and Mirra Andreeva in the quarterfinals.

Other results included No. 12 Jasmine Paolini defeating Elina Avanesyan 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina advancing past Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-3. Paolini and Rybakina will meet in the quarterfinals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The French Open is the final tournament in Paris Olympic tennis qualifying.