Novak Djokovic feels he produced the best tennis yet in his comeback from injury by closing out a third-round victory over Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets on Friday.
After straight-sets wins over Rogerio Dutra Silva and Jaume Munar in his first two outings at Roland Garros, 20th seed Djokovic overcame world number 13 Bautista Agut 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.
The Serbian, who cut his 2017 season short due to a persistent elbow problem, has shown signs of rediscovering some of his best form at Roland Garros.
Djokovic edged a second tie-break of the match against Bautista Agut before racing to victory in the fourth set, which he felt was his best in Paris this year.
"I think it was a great fight, almost four hours. Bautista Agut, he's not going to hand you the win. You have to deserve it," said Djokovic.
"For me, not having so many matches in the last period, this is great. Of course, I don't want to play four, five hours every match, but I think it was a great test. I had to earn my victory.
"[The] last set was actually the best set that I have played so far in the tournament. I don't feel too exhausted. That's the good news, as well. I'm just looking forward to next challenge."
Djokovic will take on Fernando Verdasco in the last 16 after he overcame a listless Grigor Dimitrov.
It could well have been an all-Spanish fourth-round match if Bautista Agut had succeeded in serving out the third set, which Djokovic pinpointed as the turning point.
"I thought I started well, set and 4-1, couple of set points. He just went for it. I was a bit unlucky not to capitalise on the second set," he said.
"He was [the] better player in the third set, for example, he was serving for it. But that was a turning point. You know, I think for [the first] set and a half and the fourth set, I have played pretty well.
"And after three hours and 15, 20 minutes, to be able to play that way and finish the match in tough conditions against a player who doesn't miss a lot and puts a lot of balls back, that's something that gives me great deal of confidence."
Latest on Sportstar
- French Open 2023: Rune beats Cerundolo in final set tiebreak, sets up quarterfinal rematch with Ruud
- Seven punished by Spanish government for racist insults against Vinicius
- Nacho, Fati called up to Spain squad for Nations League finals
- Asian U20 Athletics Championship: Shivam bags silver in javelin throw; Shakeel wins bronze in 800m
- Haddad Maia beats Sorribes Tormo in third-longest women’s match at French Open