PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic’s French Open title defense — and his hold on No. 1 in the rankings — are still alive thanks to a 7-5, 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 comeback victory over 22-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti in a third-round match that lasted 4 1/2 hours and did not conclude until Sunday after 3 a.m., the latest finish in tournament history.

It is Djokovic’s 369th win at a Grand Slam tournament, tying Roger Federer for the most in tennis history.

Djokovic briefly looked as if he might be in trouble against Musetti but instead ran away with the final set and now will continue his bid for a record 25th Grand Slam title and fourth at Roland Garros.

Gasping for break while leaning over with hands on knees, or taking so much time between points that he earned a warning, the 37-year-old Djokovic appeared to be exhausted at times against his much younger, backward-hat-wearing opponent. Musetti was propelled to the lead by a one-handed backhand, a deft touch at the net and a 5-for-5 success rate on break chances.

But Djokovic is nothing if not a determined problem-solver. And once Djokovic got headed in the right direction in the fourth set, thanks to playing more aggressively on service returns and closer to the baseline during groundstrokes exchanges, the 30th-ranked Musetti could not withstand the charge.

One telling stat: Djokovic improved to 39-11 in fifth sets over his career; Musetti fell to 2-6.


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