Back then it was a big upset, but given what we know now, it was something much, much bigger. On June 2, 2010, exactly 10 years ago today, Jurgen Melzer battled back from two sets and a break down to stun Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-4.
It remains the only time anyone’s beaten Djokovic at a major from two sets to love down.
The Serbian, who was ranked No. 3 at Roland Garros, seemed to be cruising into the semis as he built a 6-3, 6-2, 2-0 lead, but the match turned on a dime from there. Melzer reeled off six games in a row to sweep the third set, snuck out a tight fourth set and eventually closed out his most famous victory in the fifth.
“It’s the most incredible moment of my career,” said Melzer, who was ranked No. 27. “It was a very tough match, but I kept fighting. When I was two sets to nil behind and a break down, I just said to myself, ‘Why not?’ So I changed my game plan a little and it worked. It’s fantastic.”
Going into that match, Melzer was 0-22 in his career at majors after falling behind two sets to love. Even more daunting? Djokovic had been 49-0 at majors after winning the first two sets.
But Melzer would move on to the semifinals to take on Rafael Nadal. Meanwhile, Djokovic took the loss hard.
“I wanted to quit tennis because all I saw was black,” he told told Sky Sports Italia earlier this year. “But it was a transformation. After that defeat I freed myself. I had won in Australia in 2008, I was No. 3, but I wasn’t happy. I knew I could do more, but I lost the most important matches against Federer and Nadal. From that moment I took the pressure off myself, and I started playing more aggressively.
“That was the turning point.”
Since that pivotal moment, Djokovic has gone 160-0 at majors after winning the first two sets to bring his career record to 209-1.
And it gets even better.
Of the 210 total times Djokovic has gone up two sets to love at a major, the match has ended in the third set 185 times (88%), in the fourth set 21 times (10%) and in the fifth set just four times (2%). The only other times Djokovic has been pushed to a fifth set after winning the first two came against Fernando Gonzalez at the French Open in 2006, against Marcos Baghdatis at Wimbledon in 2007, and against Andy Murray at the French Open in 2015.
Djokovic would get his revenge on Melzer. In the pair’s only meeting since the 2010 French Open, the Serb crushed the Austrian in just 54 minutes the 2012 Beijing quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-2.