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.
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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