Novak Djokovic saved four match points to advance to French Open semis (VIDEO)

Chris Chase
June 5, 2012

This is why Novak Djokovic is the world No. 1 and reigning champion at three Grand Slams.

Facing two match points in Tuesday's quarterfinal against French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Djokovic played fearlessly to save both, then went on to win the game, set and match 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1 to set up a semifinal rematch with Roger Federer.

Tsonga started slowly on Tuesday. He looked nervous and distant in dropping the first set in just 23 minutes. But he flipped a switch in the second and took a lead in the third, sending a quiet crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier into near hysterics. No Frenchman has won at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983 and Tsonga was on the verge of sitting just two wins away. Djokovic had other ideas.

[Related: Roger Federer tells French Open fans to 'shut up,' then rallies]

His aggressiveness at 15-40 instantly brought to a similar situation in last year's US Open semifinal against Roger Federer. In September, Djokovic hit a stunning, crosscourt forehand return. The shot was so brazen that Federer criticized it after the match. Tuesday's saves weren't as dramatic, but that overhead from the baseline was just as impressive. Though it looked like it might sail beyond the line, the shot fluttered in and seemed to catch Tsonga off guard. He didn't regain his footing for the rest of the point.

The other match points followed the same pattern: Tsonga didn't blow the opportunities, Djokovic simply won them.

"I gave my very best," a teary Tsonga told the crowd after the match. "I would have loved to win this match in front of you. I'm sorry I did not."

They'll be left to wonder how he didn't. Djokovic will too.

"He was better player most of match," he told the crowd after the match. "I was fortunate to come from four match points down, don't know how I did it."

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