Djokovic Faces French Open Semi-Final
World number one Novak Djokovic overcame the first physical difficulties to beat Pablo Carreño Busta and reach the semi-finals of the French Open. The Serbian arrived on the court with duct tape around his neck, repeatedly massaging his left biceps and grimacing on his way to losing the first set, but went on to win 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.
It was a rematch of the September US Open match, where Djokovic was defaulted for hitting a linesman with a ball. Djokovic faces Stefanos Tsitsipas next.
“I definitely didn’t feel very good coming onto the court today,” Djokovic, 33, told a news conference.
“Some things happened in the warm-up. I had to deal with those physical problems when I got to the court. As the game progressed, I felt better, I didn’t feel as much pain.
“But, you know, I don’t want to take anything away from his good performance. Especially during a set and a half he was the best player, dictating the play ”.
It had been just 31 days since the pair met in the fourth round of the US Open and the Serb was disqualified after striking a ball in anger and accidentally sending it down the throat of a linesman. This time the focus was not on tennis either.
There were moments in the first set when Djokovic seemed ready to give up; at one point, he signaled to his team with a gesture to his throat suggesting that he was finished with the match and that he was clearly uncomfortable.
Between points, he hit himself on the upper arm, stretching his arms or hitting his thighs with the racket, and also received visits from the physio in the changes.
Carreño Busta made the most of it, breaking twice to take the first set as Djokovic looked increasingly dejected.
After more physical therapy, a sip of a drink sent by his team and a few dates, Djokovic’s level improved by taking the second set efficiently.