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Rain halts Djokovic/Agut thriller as Pironkova upsets Radswanka

By Jacob Akindele
01 June 2016   |   2:55 am
They are close in every aspect. A year apart in age, the one-year-older Novak is only two inches taller than the six-footer from Spain. They are about the same weight (Novak is 172lbs, Agut is 168lbs).
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his men's fourth round match against Spain's Roberto Bautista-Agut at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in Paris on May 31, 2016. Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his men’s fourth round match against Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open in Paris on May 31, 2016.<br />Thomas SAMSON / AFP

They are close in every aspect. A year apart in age, the one-year-older Novak is only two inches taller than the six-footer from Spain. They are about the same weight (Novak is 172lbs, Agut is 168lbs). They both have dark hair. They are tall and lean, which is considered the perfect frame for today’s game in male tennis. The difference is in their rankings and earnings. Agut is number 16 in the world. Their fourth-round clash was the opener on Day 10, in the Philippe-Charier Court at Stade Roland Garros.

Agut opened serving and held. So did Djokovic. It looked a routine flow as each player held and Agut went up 3-2. Djokovic lost his serve and the Spaniard stepped up to serve for a commanding lead, but he was broken. With a chance to level in the eighth game, Djokovic dropped his serve again on a drop shot by his opponent that he reached but netted for his uncharacteristically 15th unforced error in the set.

A hard serve was returned deep by Djokovic for game point. The Spaniard hit a drop shot, Djokovic scooped it but missed the sideline to lose the game and the first set. And then the raindrops intervened.

On the resumption of play, Agut fell behind 0-40 on his serve and when the world champion got the break, it signaled a possible turn-around.

However, Djokovic fell behind in the eighth game and at 15-30 he reached for another drop shot by the Spaniard but missed the ball; the effect of the softer clay from moisture, preventing proper foot balance. At break point, he missed another attempt at retrieving a drop shot, for his 15th unforced error of the match.

Uncharacteristic. Serving for the set, Agut fell behind 15-30, but hit a service winner to level in points. He clinched the game and set when, yet again, Djokovic reached a dropped shot but could not keep the ball in his opponent’s court. The rain heralded his achievement but halted progress.

In the second set, Djokovic got the first service break in the eighth game. Serving for the set, he faced three break points, saved them but on the first advantage point, Agut took the game. But he failed in his effort to level when he lost his serve after saving two break points. Djokovic had the second set, 6-4. A battle looked in the offing.

Djokovic held serve easily in the first game of the third set and so did Agut. Djokovic went ahead 2-1. Agut lost first point of the fourth game on his serve but leveled 15-all after a 33-shot rally that Djokovic lost; raising his two hands to heaven in a questioning gesture.