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Second seed Novak Djokovic (pictured) recovered from a slip behind the baseline in the first set, which drew gasps from the Suzanne Lenglen Court crowd, to beat gutsy American Wayne Odesnik 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 Friday for a place in the Roland Garros fourth round against No. 18 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.
Djokovic broke serve in the first game of the match but failed to close out the opening set on serve at 5-4 before World No. 106 Odesnik gave him a second chance. Djokovic led 4-1 in the second set before Odesnik responded again, but the Serbian was not to be denied and struck his 10th ace to complete his 31st win of the season in two hours and 17 minutes.
The 21-year-old Djokovic, who improves to 20-9 lifetime against left-handed opponents, hit 25 winners in total for his last 16 berth. He reached the semifinals last year (l. to Nadal).
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The World No. 3 has enjoyed a stellar start to the 2008 season, which includes clinching his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January (d. Tsonga) and two ATP Masters Series titles at Indian Wells (d. Fish) and Rome (d. Wawrinka). Overall he has a 31-6 season record (14-2 on clay).
Odesnik, who was appearing at Roland Garros for the first time and at his fifth Grand Slam overall, reached the Houston semifinals in April (l. to Granollers). He drops to 8-8 on the season.
Djokovic will next meet Mathieu for the third time. Mathieu earned a hard-fought 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(9) victory over Argentine qualifier Eduardo Schwank in the last completed match on day six at Roland Garros. The fourth set lasted 76 minutes.
Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, the No. 19 seed, advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career after beating 10th-seeded Andy Murray of Scotland 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 25 minutes.
Almagro won five straight games to clinch the third set, before breaking the Murray serve twice in the pair’s first career meeting. The 22-year-old Murcia resident hit 21 aces, 37 winners in total and won 17 of 31 net approaches, while Murray committed 58 unforced errors.
The 22-year-old Almagro is enjoying a career-best season, with a 28-5 record on clay that includes two ATP titles at Costa do Sauipe (d. Moya) and Acapulco (d. Nalbandian), and a runner-up finish in Valencia (l. to Ferrer). Murray drops to 11-14 lifetime on clay and 21-10 on the season. He is also a two-time titlist on the ATP circuit, capturing titles in Doha (d. Wawrinka) and Marseille (d. Ancic) in January.
Almagro will next meet surprise fourth round opponent World No. 145 Jeremy Chardy, a wild card entry from France, who knocked out No. 30 seed Dmitry Tursunov of Russia with a 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and four minutes.
The 21-year-old Chardy struck eight aces and 25 winners in total. In only his sixth ATP-level tournament, he recorded his first Top 10 victory over No. 7-ranked David Nalbandian in the second round. Chardy enjoyed a successful junior career, winning the 2005 Wimbledon title before finishing runner-up at the US Open two months later.
Tursunov, currently No. 33 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, captured his fourth career ATP title at Sydney in January (d. Guccione).
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Friday: Confident Nadal Beats Third Lefty for Last 16 Berth
Thursday: Federer Fights into Third Round for Ancic Test
Thursday: Damp Conditions Don't Hinder Nadal
Thursday: Nalbandian, Blake Fall in Second Round
Wednesday: Djokovic, Murray into Third Round; Berdych Falls
Wednesday: Three-time Champion Nadal Begins Title Defense
Wednesday: Ferrer, Youzhny, Hewitt & Stepanek All Advance
Tuesday: Davydenko, Robredo Through on Rain-Hit Day
Monday: Federer, Berdych Advance; Verdasco Survives Five Sets
Monday: Robredo, Gonzalez Advance; Baghdatis Falls
Sunday: Kuerten Bids Emotional Farewell
Sunday: Djokovic Survives First Round Scare
Sunday: Nalbandian, Blake Make Confident Starts
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