Novak Djokovic has revealed how “laughing” at himself in the mirror maintained his bid to equal a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles victories at the US Open.
It was one of the toughest matches I've played here in many years. Huge, huge credit to Laslo for playing some of the best tennis I've ever seen him play. Novak Djokovic
The Serb came back from two sets down to defeat compatriot Laslo Djere 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-1 6-3. at Flushing Meadows in New York.
He will face qualifier Borna Gojo in the last 16, with the world-ranked 105 Croatian earning his spot by beating Jiri Vesely 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Djokovic, who will return to world No.1 after the tournament, took a break after dropping the second set and literally reflected on his situation by looking in a mirror.
The 36-year-old said: “I did a pep talk in the mirror. It worked. I laughed at myself because I was so agitated and annoyed with the game. I had to force myself to lift my spirits.”
The triple US Open champion added: “It was one of the toughest matches I’ve played here in many years. Huge, huge credit to Laslo for playing some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play.”
Three-time US Open champion Djokovic, who is aiming to move level with Australian Margaret Court’s tally of major wins, will play Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo in the last 16.
Djokovic struggled at the start against Djere, the 32nd seed ,before revealing his powers of recovery.
He was tipped to cruise by Djere.
Djere had given Djokovic a stern test when taking his countryman to three sets – including two which went to tiebreaks – in Belgrade last year.
But his threat was dismissed by former world No.1 Justine Henin.
She said to Eurosport: “I don’t know if we can call it a test. Of course, they played a tight match in Serbia last year, but still I think Djere is not a Grand Slam specialist and Novak knows how to deal with this kind of situation.”
Her view was given credence with Djokovic earning the meeting with a couple of straight-set triumphs in the latest renewal of the year’s fourth and final Grand Slam in the Big Apple.
But Djokovic, the last of the Big Three standing unless Rafa Nadal makes a comeback, pointed out recently how he gets nervous just like anyone.
But he certainly had the last laugh.