After trading body blows with Juan Martin del Potro and splitting sets in a third-round match suspended by darkness Friday night, No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic raised his game a notch in afternoon sunshine today and won sets three and four handily to defeat the big Argentine 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The win was Djokovic’s 40th in a row this season and 42nd overall, counting two Davis Cup victories in December, and moves him ever closer to John McEnroe’s modern-day record of 42 consecutive victories to start a season, set in 1984. Del Potro was every bit Djokovic’s equal last night, as the two engaged in a full-tilt slugfest. There was just one break of service in each set. Today’s play was a different story. Djokovic came out with an extra bounce in his step and wore the No. 25-ranked Argentine down. The match turned in Djokovic’s favor at 2-2 in the third set when the Serb saved the second of two break points by winning a 23-shot rally. A deflated del Potro promptly dropped serve in the next game and Djokovic served out the set. Nole broke again at 1-1 in the fourth set, winning another lengthy rally — this one 26 shots — to set up two break points. Djokovic held and broke once more to lead 4-1. Perhaps sensing the end and relaxing a bit, Djokovic dropped serve but broke right back, and then served it out, executing a touch drop shot on his first match point. “A mental fight,” Djokovic said of the two-day match. “It’s great to see him playing well, and I’m really happy to get this win, because it’s a big win.” The Serb hit 41 winners overall, including six aces, committed 38 unforced errors and converted five of 12 break point opportunities. Del Potro had 22 winners, committed 46 unforced errors and cashed in on two of his five break point chances. “He’s done much better than me and he took his opportunities and made the match very difficult,” said del Potro. “I had my chance in the third set, two-all, two break points, and I missed it. Against this player, if you don’t take your chance, you lose.” Djokovic improved to 4-0 against del Potro and now will take on Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the next round.
Djokovic Deflates del Potro in Paris
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