Mats Wilander was left stunned by Novak Djokovic’s calm demeanour in the aftermath of his French Open quarter-final victory over Karen Khachanov on Tuesday afternoon. Djokovic battled back from a set down to beat his Russian opponent and book his place in the last four at Roland Garros, where he will face either Carlos Alcaraz or Stefanos Tsitsipas for a spot in this year’s final.
The Serb was pegged back in the very first set thanks to a fast start from Khachanov but managed to win a tiebreak in the second before breezing through the next two sets to wrap up an impressive victory, which marked the 90th of his career at Roland Garros. Djokovic was interviewed by Mats Wilander on the court just moments after wrapping up proceedings and left the Swede in awe of his unrivalled composure, with his strong mental outlook making the difference in the tiebreak at the end of set two.
“He said it’s one of the more interesting courts to play on,” Wilander told Eurosport when asked to translate what Djokovic had said in his answer to a question that was given in French.
“He was a little subdued in a way, maybe becasue we had to speak English, but maybe that’s just him. Job done, didn’t play well in the beginning then he played better. Karen played good. I’m like wow, he’s so calm and so focused in a way.”
Djokovic began his quest for a third French Open title with victory over Aleksandar Kovacevic in the opening round before beating Marton Fucsovics, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Juan Pablo Varillas prior to his latest win over Khachanov. The 36-year-old was full of praise for his downed opponent in the aftermath of Tuesday’s quarter-final showdown and admitted that Khachanov was the better player overall in the first half of the contest.
“I was struggling to find my rhythm, making unforced errors, and came into the match quite slow and sluggish, but I played a perfect tiebreak and from then onwards I played a couple levels higher than in the beginning,” said Djokovic.
“It was a bit of a scare at the end of the fourth but I managed to win eight points in a row. It’s a big fight, something you expect in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. You’re not going to have victories handed to you and I’m glad to have overcome it today.
“I think I missed a couple of easy shots today. These things happen, sometimes it works really well, sometimes it doesn’t. He’s very aggressive and has a big serve [but] maybe he doesn’t move as well so I tried to expose him and make it unpredictable for him.”
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