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Djokovic Edges Seppi In Five-Set Comeback

Paris, France

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic came back from two sets down for the third time.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic nearly saw his hopes of winning four Grand Slam titles in a row dashed Sunday at Roland Garros, before overcoming No. 22 seed Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 in the fourth round.

"I think he was a better player for the first two sets, definitely," admitted Djokovic. "I was very fortunate to come through this match. I was fighting. When I was two sets down, I believed I could win the match, and that's the only positive I can really pick up from today's match. It was one of those days where you don't feel [like anything] is working really. My serve was well. But aside that, I could not get into the rhythm. I was fighting, and I think because of the fight I won the match."

It’s the first time Djokovic has come back from two sets down since edging Roger Federer in the 2011 US Open semi-finals. It's the third time overall after he achieved the feat for the first time against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round of Wimbledon in 2005. Djokovic has reached the quarter-finals or better at 12 consecutive major tournaments and is riding a 25-match winning streak in Grand Slam events dating back to his semi-final defeat to Federer in Paris last year.

In a topsy-turvy clash, Djokovic converted nine breaks against Seppi and was efficient at the net, winning 76 per cent of his points when he came forward. He broke for a 4-2 lead in the deciding set, and held on from there to prevail in four hours and 18 minutes.

Djokovic has defeated Italian opposition 23 straight times, with his lone loss coming to Filippo Volandri in Umag eight years ago. He is looking to win his third trophy of the season after successfully defending titles at the Australian Open (d. Nadal) and Miami (d. Murray).

In the final eight, the 25-year-old Serb will square off against fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, or No. 18 seed Stanislas Wawrinka. Their match was suspended due to darkness, with Tsonga leading 6-4, 7-6(6), 3-6, 3-6, 4-2.

Seppi was bidding to defeat a World No. 1 for the first time in six attempts. He was competing in the round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time in his 29th appearance, and fell to 0-8 against Djokovic. 

"I didn't have such a good start [to the third set]," reflected Seppi. "Maybe if I could stay in front or so in the third set, it could change a little bit. And that's the only thing I could do better, I think, to just start a little bit better there, the third set."

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