Novak Djokovic into French Open semifinals after arm problem

Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic is into the French Open semifinals for a 10th time, but he didn’t look 100 percent at the start of Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

The top seed rallied past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final four.

Djokovic received treatment on his upper left arm after dropping his first set of the tournament and also had tape on the right side of the back of his neck. During the first set, Djokovic shook and smacked that part of his arm. He eventually discarded the neck tape.

“I definitely didn’t feel great coming into the court today,” he said, noting neck and shoulder “issues” but not going into further detail. “Few things happened in the warmup. I had to deal with those physical issues coming onto the court. As the match went on, I felt better, didn’t feel as much pain.

“I didn’t have much of energy really happening in my legs or movement or game itself. It took me about set and a half to really get comfortable and start really playing the way I should.”

He previously withdrew from doubles at the Western & Southern Open in New York in August citing a neck injury but continued in singles, winning the event.

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Djokovic next plays Friday against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece for a place in Sunday’s final, potentially against Rafael Nadal. Nadal gets Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the other Friday semifinal.

Those matches could have a significant impact on tennis history. Djokovic has 17 Grand Slam singles titles, third on the men’s all-time list behind Nadal (18) and Roger Federer (20), who is sitting out the French Open after undergoing two knee surgeries.

Djokovic squandered a chance to further reel in Nadal and Federer at last month’s U.S. Open. He was defaulted in a fourth-round match with Carreno Busta for striking a ball in frustration that inadvertently hit a linesperson in the throat.

That marked Djokovic’s only defeat in 2020. He’s otherwise 31-0 with four titles, including his eighth Australian Open back in February.

“I’m over it,” he said of the U.S. Open default. “I’m not thinking about it at all. I mean, zero percent.”

Djokovic is 3-2 against Tsitsipas, including a sweep in their lone clay-court meeting last year.

Earlier Wednesday, Tsitsipas swept No. 13 Andrey Rublev of Russia 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to make his second Slam semifinal.

Tsitsipas and Schwartzman are bidding to become the second man born in the 1990s to win a Slam after Austrian Dominic Thiem broke through at last month’s U.S. Open.

“I’m not a Next Gen player any more. I’m a proper adult,” the 22-year-old Tsitsipas said, referring to the ATP’s initiative for 21-and-under players introduced in 2017, including a year-end finals that he won in 2018. “Next Gen is not Next Gen any more. We are all young. I guess you can call it that way.”

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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