Home Sports Djokovic beats Musetti after 3am in latest ever French Open finish

Djokovic beats Musetti after 3am in latest ever French Open finish

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Djokovic looked exhausted at times, but dug deep to beat Musetti

Djokovic looked exhausted at times, but dug deep to beat Musetti – GETTY IMAGES

Novak Djokovic added another record to his endless collection by claiming the latest victory in history at Roland Garros, concluding an early morning night session by finally defeating Italian Lorenzo Musetti at 3:07 a.m.

“Who will sleep now?” Djokovic asked the crowd after his 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory, which took up four and a half hours. “It is impossible to sleep with all this adrenaline. If you have some parties, I’ll go. Allez!

Here was the latest crazy finish in a sport that has become addicted to them. Until recently, play at the French Open had been restricted to daylight hours, but the character of the tournament has changed dramatically since the introduction of night sessions in 2021. Over the past week, numerous matches have ended after the midnight.

However, nothing like this had been seen here before. The previous record at Roland Garros was set by Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner, who finished at 1:26am in the Covid-disrupted 2020 autumn event.

Five other major games were delayed. Although most of these have been recent, the record is still held by the 2008 Lleyton Hewitt-Marcos Baghdatis match at the Australian Open, after which the players walked past morning garbage collectors on their way home.

Djokovic and Musetti were originally supposed to start at 8:15 p.m. or shortly after, but terrible weather in Paris over the past week had delayed organizers. To try to make up ground, they added an additional match to the Court Philippe Chatrier’s schedule, so the main event was delayed until 10:36 p.m.

As the defending champion and world number 1, Djokovic must have already been worried about the damage this delayed start would cause to his entire campaign. And that was before Musetti began playing the kind of tennis he produced in beating Djokovic in Monte Carlo last year.

The 30th seed is an elegant player with a glorious one-handed backhand. Musetti used this photogenic shot to outlast Djokovic in the second set tie-break and then dominate him in the third set.

But despite repeatedly criticizing his player, Djokovic found another level when threatened, eventually submitting Musetti with a strong late attack that belied their 15-year age difference. His eventual victory was his 369th in the majors, tying Roger Federer’s tally.

“It’s incredible that you are here at this time of the morning,” Djokovic told fans in his on-court interview. “There are children here who should be sleeping.”

Musetti's one-handed backhand caused problems for the world number one

Musetti’s one-handed backhand caused problems for the world number one – GETTY IMAGES

After leaving court, he was still emotional about his dramatic escape and told reporters that while the schedule “could have been handled differently,” he didn’t want to get into the details because there were other “big things” to talk about. .

While the remaining fans at Court Philippe Chatrier were delighted with their prolonged entertainment, many questions remain about the wisdom of playing professional sport at such an anti-social time. The two tours introduced new rules to prevent these types of results in January, although the French Open is one of four majors and is therefore not subject to tour rules.

In the words of Ahmad Nassar, who heads the players’ union PTPA, expecting athletes of Djokovic’s stature to compete into the wee hours of the morning “is not right.”

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