French Open: Novak Djokovic rallies to defeat Francisco Cerundolo in five sets; questions his status for next round

The three-time champion fought through a leg injury

For the second consecutive match at the French Open, top seed Novak Djokovic dropped two sets and rallied in the final two for victory. He won his fourth-round match on Monday over Francisco Cerundolo in five sets — 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Djokovic advances to the quarterfinals to face either No. 7 Casper Ruud or No. 12 Taylor Fritz on Wednesday. By doing so, he passes Roger Federer as the man with the most Grand Slam quarterfinals at 59.

The defending French Open champion did, however, leave some doubt as to whether he'll be healthy enough to play on after he powered through a leg injury Monday.

"I don't know what will happen tomorrow or after tomorrow if I'll be able to step out on the court and play," Djokovic said after the match. "I hope so."

The defending French Open champion, Djokovic faced Ruud in last year's final and defeated him in three sets. Ruud has made it to the past two tournament finals, while Djokovic has won two of the past three titles at Roland Garros.

PARIS, FRANCE - June 03:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia receives treatment for a leg injury during his match against Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the fourth round of the 2024 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 3rd, 2024, in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

On Monday, the three-time champion won the first set against Cerundolo before losing the next two. That was likely due in large part to an apparent injury Djokovic suffered to his knee in that first set.

Fans on social media expressed skepticism that Djokovic was really hurt and required a medical timeout, but he did lose the next two sets and received treatment throughout the match.

"It did disrupt me definitely in play," Djokovic said of the injury. "For two sets, two sets and a half, I didn't want to stay in the rally too long. Every time he would make sudden drop shots or change direction, I would not be feeling very comfortable to do the running."

He may also have been fatigued from playing five sets until 3 a.m. local time on Saturday versus Lorenzo Musetti, the latest a match has ever gone at the French Open. The late times have been an expressed concern among players at this year's tournament.

However, Djokovic endured and rallied in what turned into a 4-hour, 39-minute match to prevail against Cerundolo's strong serve, drop shots and returns sending him all over the court.

A definite visual highlight was Djokovic going low to return a volley in the fifth set, nearly doing the splits as he went to the ground. He complained earlier in the match to the umpire and called out the grounds staff about the clay court being slippery.

Djokovic thanked the fans in attendance for their support, saying they gave him the energy to come back and win (via The Independent).

"I want to say a big thank you because once again like the last match, the win is for you and helped by you," Djokovic said in French. "The last match, I was two sets to one down, and at the fourth set, 2-2, you gave me so much energy — so really, thank you. What can I say, I was maybe four points away from losing this match, but Francisco played with so much quality. Well done."