French Open 2012: My fighting spirit saved me – Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic admits he was poor against Andreas Seppi but says "fighting spirit" helped him reach the French Open last eight

novak djokovic
Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open title for a third time in January Photo: Marianne Bevis

novak djokovic

Novak Djokovic admitted his “fighting spirit” saved him from an early exit at the French Open after the world No1 came from two sets down to beat Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 on Sunday.

The 25-year-old struggled to match his Italian opponent for the opening 90 minutes, with the 22nd seed racing into a two-set lead in front of a stunned Philippe Chatrier court in Paris.

But Djokovic, who has won the last three Majors available to him, rallied to edge the third set after Seppi had initially broken the top seed.

The Serb, aiming to become the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam titles at one time, then completed an error-strewn revival to unconvincingly move into the quarter-finals.

“I played very badly, but I won thanks to my fighting spirit,” said Djokovic.

“He was the better player for the first two sets and I was fortunate to come through. But even at two sets down I still believed I could do it and that’s about the only positive I can take. It was one of those days when nothing worked.”

Meanwhile, 2009 winner Roger Federer endured a brief scare of his own when David Goffin took the first set of their last-16 encounter before the world No3 went on to complete a 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 win to move into the quarter-finals.

Unseeded Beglian Goffin, a self-professed Federer fantatic, was only in the main draw after Gael Monfils withdrew with an injury – and Federer praised his 21-year-old opponent after the four-set match.

“He can be a champion. It takes weeks of hard labour but I was impressed by the way he plays,” said Federer.

“It’s nice to see someone do it at a Grand Slam again for a change, because back in the day we were used to seeing Becker winning Wimbledon, Chang winning the French Open at very young ages. It just doesn’t happen so often anymore.

“I still haven’t seen him enough. I wish he comes through. He’s very talented and I hope he can make it to the top 20. That would be great.”

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