Despite Arm Issue Djokovic reaches Roland Garros Semifinals, Along with Tsitsipas, Kvitova, Kenin
(October 7, 2020) No. 1 Novak Djokovic overcame a left arm injury and a bandage on his neck to take down 17th seed Pablo Carreño Busta 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his 10th French Open semifinal on Wednesday. This was a rematch from last month’s US Open when Djokovic was defaulted for accidentally hitting a lineswoman with a ball in the throat. The loss is the only blemish on his 2020 record of 36-1.
“I definitely didn’t feel great coming into the court today,” Djokovic said. “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. But, you know, I don’t want to take away anything from his good performance. Especially for set and a half he was the better player, dictating the play. I was very neutral. 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.”
“Probably the last years he’s always doing this when he has problems on court, said the Spaniard.” I don’t know, maybe it’s the pressure or something that he needs to do it. But, I mean, he continues playing normal, no? I don’t know if he’s pain really or he has mental.”
“It was a good match obviously. I play against the No. 1 of the world. At the beginning of the match I think that I play good. I take advantage of the opportunities returning. Well, then in the beginning of the second set, I have it again but didn’t take advantage. That was when he start to play better. Probably it was the moment of the match that I didn’t play my tennis, no? I didn’t give my level. Probably these five, six, seven games was the worst moment of the match for me. After that I think that I play good again, good rallies, being aggressive. Of course, when you have in the other side of the court Novak, is not easy to make winners. But I think the game was close. My level is good. I can play matches against these players, the best players of the world. Happy for this. Of course, not happy for lose this match.”
“Look, I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues,” Djokovic said to media. “I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t want to get really too much into it. Obviously I’m still in the tournament, so I don’t want to reveal too much. I’m feeling okay. I think, as I said, as the match progressed, I warmed up by body, and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better.”
Djokovic, going for his second French Open title and 18th major will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in his semifinal.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” noted the Serb. “I mean, deservedly where he is in rankings. He’s been playing the tennis of his life really in the last 12 months, winning World Tour Finals, just being very consistent on all surfaces with his results. He has an all-around game. He’s a big guy, big serve. He has weapons, obviously serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well. He’s really a complete, all-around player. I think he’s one of the hardest-working guys out there. He has a great team, obviously his father, Patrick Mouratoglou in his corner as well. Growing up in his academy, one of the best academies in the world. I know Patrick very well. Incredible professional. I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us. Semifinals of Grand Slam, I mean, this is what you expect. You expect to play a top-five, top-10 player. This is what I get. I’m hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”
The fifth seed from Greece beat the 13th seed Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to avenge a loss in the Hamburg final just 10 days ago.
“I’m expecting since a young age to potentially triumph at these Grand Slams,” noted the 22-year-old Tsitsipas. “I’m happy that I’m able to be in a position where I am today. Yeah, it’s very, very satisfying. I think I can learn from the previous one. I’m chasing something spectacular.”
Don’t call Tsitsipas “NextGen.” “First of all, I would like to tell you that I’m not a NextGen player any more. I’m a proper adult (smiling). Second of all, for sure it’s going to come at some point. I mean, let’s face it. Yeah, the big three have been there for a long time. I don’t feel like it’s going to be the same in five, six years’ time, I believe. Third of all, I’m happy to be playing well enough, also be part of something so special. I don’t know, NextGen is not NextGen any more. We are all young. I guess you can call it that way.”
No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova and Sofia Kenin both advanced to the final four in the women’s draw on Wednesday.
Kvitova reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Laura Siegemund. It’s her first trip to the final four at Roland Garros since 2012.
“I’m pretty proud of everything I did today,” said the Czech player. “Since I wake up today I felt pretty nervous. Going to the match I knew it will be big fight about every point. She’s very tricky opponent, she has lots of variety in her game, and I knew it will be very tough. Of course, playing quarterfinal of the Grand Slam, it’s nothing easy with the nerves as well. So I’m pretty happy about my side, of mental side and about how I handle it, the pressure out there, as well. Of course about the game, as well. I serve very well in the first set. It was a great one. Then was a little bit, you know, about the few points. When I lose the serve I break her back. I was still there, still staying positive, still fighting for every point. That’s I think was the big advantage for me today, because really she couldn’t put easy mistakes or something like that. I knew I have to run a lot for sure for the dropshots, as well. I’m glad some of them I made.”
Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin is into her first Roland Garros semifinal wit a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 win over US countrywoman Danielle Collins.
“I know her game really well, ” Kenin said. “I have played her a few times. Yeah, it’s not easy playing a fellow American. I obviously want all of us to do well. Obviously I knew it was going to be one American in the semifinals. And I mean, I think it’s really great for American tennis to have a good quarterfinals matchup. Yeah, I just knew her game, I knew what I needed to do. Yeah, I’m just really happy. It’s an honor, I mean, to be in the semifinals, and I’m super happy that I won.”
Kenin talked about the key to playing Kvitova next: “Definitely nerves. That’s going to be a major key. But I feel like I’m going to try to do the best I can to handle myself. And of course she’s like really, you know, tall, powerful, she has a big serve, big shots. I’m just going to have to figure out a way to balance my game out. Obviously I’m not going to overpower her since I’m not going to be able to. But I’ve got different things I can throw in to mix things up. Yeah, we’ll see how it’s going to go, but I’m super excited to be in the semifinals and to play her. I’m just super excited.”