Novak Djokovic fought off the tricky weather and a determined Roberto Baurista Agut to move into the quarterfinals on Wednesday, leaving him three wins from completing a career Grand Slam. The next challenge for the world number one is Tomas Berdych, the man must have forgotten what it is like to taste victory over Djokovic.
While his tennis was not the best, Djokovic did what he had to do, coming back from dropping the first set to see off the challenge posed by Bautista Agut. The Serbian won 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5. Bautista Agut would look back and think what might have been had play not been stopped right after he took the first set. That quelled his momentum and allowed Djokovic to get out of the rut he was in, with the Serbian then coming back, when play resumed, to take the second set and go up a break in the third.
With the match then halting again before resuming the next day, you always felt Djokovic would have the mental acumen to see the fourth round contest through.
"Once you accept the circumstances and the decision is such that you play, then you have to go with it," Djokovic was quoted as saying by Roland Garros' official website "It's the same for you and your opponent.
"But it was a great mental test for all of us, really, the entire time. I'm, in a way, glad to have a match like this, because it's a challenge that you need to overcome mentally mostly."
Mentally, Djokovic has been tuned in most of the time against his quarterfinal opponent Berdych, with the Serbian holding 23-2 head-to-head record. It has been three years since Berdych won a match against Djokovic, even if he will look at that as a silver lining, considering that victory came on clay.
"I know that I can play better and I have a couple more gears," Djokovic, who will meet Berdych for the first time at the French Open, added. "That excites me, actually, motivates me to work and get myself in that maximum speed hopefully for the next match and see where it takes me."
Berdych was impressive against David Ferrer in his fourth round match, beating the veteran Spaniard 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to seal a place in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the third time in his career. The Czech will hope the confidence from that impressive win will give him a chance to, at least, challenge Djokovic on Thursday.
"It's another slam. For me it's always important to go really one by one. That's what I did. I go opponent by opponent and I get back to play some good tennis, which was important," Berdych said. "No matter what happened in the previously, it's always important what's happening right now. That means that I'm playing good tennis and feeling great and confident on the court.
"Really I have nothing to lose. I'm playing well and I'm just going to try to stick with that. I'm going to try to use my tennis as much as I can on the court and really just try to be the one who is dictating the ball. Then let's see what's going to happen and how it's going to go."
Where to Watch Live
Novak Djokovic vs Tomas Berdych is set to begin at 1 p.m. local time (4.30 p.m. IST, 12.30 p.m. BST, 7.30 a.m. ET). Below are all the live streaming and TV options.
India: TV: Neo Sports and Neo Prime.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Foxtel Play.
UK: TV: ITV. Live Streaming: ITV Player.
Middle East and North Africa: TV: BeIN Sports. Live Streaming: BeIN Sports Connect.
Asia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Fox Sports Play.
Europe: TV: Eurosport. Live Streaming: Eurosport Player.
International: Radio: Roland Garros Radio.