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Djokovic Survives Hanescu Scare; Verdasco, Ginepri Win Marathon Encounters

Paris, France

Novak Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic recorded his 24th win of the season over Victor Hanescu.

Third seed Novak Djokovic survived a second-set lapse before coming back to beat No. 31 seed Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday for a place in the Roland Garros fourth round.

Djokovic, who hit eight double faults and committed 25 unforced errors in a seesaw performance, came back from a break down in the fourth set to win six games in a row for victory in two hours and 38 minutes.

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"Lately I do have periods when I struggle to find rhythm on my serve," said Djokovic. "I think it's more mental. The positive thing about this match is that I overcame a difficult second set and was able to play great tennis in the last two sets."

Djokovic, one of six former Grand Slam champions at this year's championship, hit 44 winners and converted 16 of 28 break point opportunities to record his 24th win of the season (24-7 overall).  Hanescu dropped to 4-24 lifetime against Top 10 opponents.

The 23-year-old Serbian will next meet Robby Ginepri, who arrived in Paris 12 days ago expecting to qualify, only to learn that he had gained a direct entry into the main draw and then travelled to Dusseldorf for the ARAG ATP World Team Championships.

He remains the last American standing after reaching the fourth round for the second time in three years after he defeated Spanish No. 16 seed and 2003 titlist Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4 in three hours and 16 minutes. 

"There's a couple of games that turned the match," reflected Ginepri. "I mean, he got up a break early in the fifth set, and I ended up breaking him at love the next game. So it was a big turnaround for me. I just competed well throughout the whole match. I never got down on myself, and always gave myself another opportunity to see another point."

The 27-year-old Georgian improved to 6-7 lifetime in five-set matches after hitting 43 winners for his fourth victory of the year. The World No. 98 is the first American to beat a Spaniard in five sets at Roland Garros since Pete Sampras defeated Sergi Bruguera in the 1996 second round.

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Seventh-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco battled a blister on his racquet hand for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4 victory over No. 30 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in four hours and two minutes on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Verdasco, an ATP World Tour titlist at the SAP Open in San Jose (d. Roddick) and runner-up at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Nadal) and the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur (l. to Gasquet) this year, hit 15 unforced errors and committed 61 unforced errors but did enough to reach the Roland Garros last 16 for the fourth consecutive year. He improved to a 33-9 season record.

He goes onto meet Spain's Nicolas Almagro, the No. 19 seed and 2008 quarter-finalist (l. to Nadal), committed just 16 unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine in one hour and 51 minutes. Almagro's best result this year came at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, when he reached the semi-finals losing to his compatriot Rafael Nadal

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