Novak Djokovic needs 5 sets for win
PARIS -- For two sets, Novak Djokovic's game was sort of like Sunday's weather at Roland Garros: dreary, drab, not much to write home about.
Before it got any worse, Djokovic turned things around, fought off an unthinkable upset and kept his chances alive for the "Novak Slam."
Djokovic completed his third career comeback from two sets down, shaking off 81 unforced errors -- the same number he had in his first three matches combined -- for a 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over surprisingly game 22nd-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy.
"Today, I played a very poor match," Djokovic said.
More French Open Coverage
When you're No. 1, you play with a bull's-eye on your back, as Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka found out Sunday, ESPN.com's Greg Garber writes. Story
It wasn't pretty, but Novak Djokovic ultimately got the job done. And that's what matters for now, writes ESPN.com's Ravi Ubha. Blog
Other than the fact that he grinded it out and won, and that his hopes of winning his fourth straight Grand Slam tournament are still alive, there wasn't much to build on from this win, his 25th straight in the majors.
"I'm not worried," Djokovic said. "I'm just hoping that I can wake up tomorrow morning knowing that I'm in the quarterfinals. Forget this match today. Take the best out of it, which is that I'm proud I've been fighting, coming from two sets down."
Roger Federer also dropped his first set before rallying to reach the quarterfinals at a record 32nd consecutive major tournament.
"Lucky loser" David Goffin of Belgium got an up-close look at his idol in Federer -- and even took a set off him -- before the 16-time Grand Slam champion won their fourth-round match 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.
A cold front and a big rainstorm blew through Paris overnight; Sunday morning on the grounds felt sleepy and quiet, both in the stands on down on the courts.
"I was fighting very hard," Djokovic said. "Even when I was two sets down, I still believed that I could win."
Djokovic made it to his 12th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal and added this two-set comeback to a list that includes last year's comeback against Federer in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, when he saved two match points before escaping.
This one never got that close, and after an early break in the third set -- the first of seven Djokovic recorded over the final three sets -- there was a sense of inevitability.
The match took 4 hours, 18 minutes, though it figures the gray skies and temperatures in the low 60s won't take too much of a toll on the world's top-ranked player.
Need the scores and stats from today's matches at the French Open? Courtcast
Goffin, 21, playing in the main draw at a major tournament for the first time, and only because someone else withdrew, pulled off three upsets before facing Federer, whose posters hung in his childhood bedroom.
Federer said the whipping wind was a factor in his match, but gave most of the credit for his troubles to his opponent.
"He's got great potential in terms of his touch and the way he reads the game," Federer said. "I thought it was an interesting match."
Goffin, ranked 109th, clearly enjoyed himself. After winning one late point with a volley, he held up an index finger, then bowed to the arena's four corners.
"I've had an extraordinary week," Goffin said. "I went through the quallies with a bit of luck. Then I played my best tennis. I played three great matches. The icing on the cake was to play here with Roger."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
MORE TENNIS HEADLINES
- WTA to add extra grass-court tourney in '15
- Nishikori hires Chang as part-time coach
- WTA's Brussels Open folds after 3 years
- Oudin: Overtraining caused muscle ailment
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
French Open 2012
Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka
Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor
Casey Dellacqua and Scott Lipsky
Slam Central »
Follow us on Twitter »
Watch on ESPN