Djokovic relieved to come through
Novak Djokovic was a relieved man after fighting back from two sets to love down for the third time in his career at the French Open on Sunday.
A fourth consecutive grand slam title looked an awfully long way away while the world number one was struggling so badly against Italy's Andreas Seppi, but he eventually recovered to win 4-6 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-5 6-3.
After the exit of women's top seed Victoria Azarenka, it briefly looked like being one of the most dramatic days in French Open history, with Djokovic in serious trouble and Roger Federer also trailing to lucky loser David Goffin.
But Federer also recovered, eventually seeing off the 21-year-old Belgian 5-7 7-5 6-2 6-4 to extend his record of consecutive slam quarter-finals reached to 32.
Djokovic, who has now won 16 of the 21 five-set matches he has played and seven in a row, was badly out of sorts for the whole match, which was played in cool and windy conditions, but 22nd seed Seppi could not quite maintain his level of the first two sets.
The world number one applauded Seppi off the court, and he said: "I think he was the better player for the first two sets, definitely. I was very fortunate to come through this match.
"I was fighting. When I was two sets down, I believed I could win the match, and I think that's the only positive I can really pick up from today's match."
With six-time champion Rafael Nadal, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, looking in awesome form, Djokovic will certainly need to raise his game for a quarter-final against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Stanislas Wawrinka.
The 25-year-old, who made 77 unforced errors, said: "I won. So I don't need to be disappointed or worried or whatever. I'm in the quarter-finals. That's what matters the most.
"That's something that gives me motivation to continue on and trying to wake up tomorrow hoping for a better day. It was just not a good day. That's what happens in sports. You have good days, you have bad days."
Djokovic will not find out who he plays until tomorrow after Tsonga and Wawrinka were forced off for bad light just after 9.30pm local time with the Frenchman leading 6-4 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 3-6 4-2.
It was the same scenario for Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych, who did not start the fourth set after the Argentinian had taken the third to lead 7-6 (8/6) 1-6 6-3.
Goffin's run has been one of the stories of the tournament, the baby-faced 21-year-old who not so long ago had pictures of Federer on his bedroom wall becoming the first lucky loser for 17 years to reach the fourth round at a slam.
And for almost two sets it looked like he could do much more than that as he pushed Federer to the limit, winning the opening set with a thumping forehand winner.
With the 2009 champion serving at 15-30 and 4-5 in the second, Goffin was two points from a two-set lead, but for the first time the occasion seemed to get to him and he netted a mid-court backhand.
Federer took advantage and the third and fourth sets were more routine, although Goffin certainly had his moments, including bowing to all four corners of Court Suzanne Lenglen after winning a brilliant point late on.
Goffin, who is likely to climb inside the world's top 70 from his current ranking of 109, described the match as the greatest moment in his life.
"It's the biggest match of my life," he added. "To play Roger here at Roland Garros. It was a bonus match for me, but I took a lot of pleasure on this court.
"I was a little bit nervous, of course, but I was feeling good. Physically I was good at the start of the match. So it was a great match.
"In the key moments he is always good . That's why he was number one for a lot of weeks. He served really good. I had one chance with my backhand and put it in the net, but I have no regrets. I did what I had to do."
Goffin took part in an on-court interview with Federer after the match having made a lot of new fans, particularly with the rally that prompted him to bow.
"It was a great point," he said. "The lob and then the drop shot. All the stadium was on fire, so that's why I bowed. After a point like this, I didn't know what to do, so that's why I did it. But it was a great feeling."
Federer admitted the match could have gone the other way and he was hugely impressed by Goffin, who he tipped as a potential top-20 player.
"I thought he played really well," said the third seed. "He took the ball early every time. He's got great potential in terms of his touch and the way he reads the game.
"I think he can go very far. He's very talented. And I hope he can make it to the top 20. That would be great."