London, 8 October 2020 (dpa/MIA) – World number one Novak Djokovic battled from a set down to prevail 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday to enter his 38th grand slam semi-final at the French Open.
It was the first time the 17-time major winner had faced Carreno Busta since he was disqualified in their last meeting at the same stage of the US Open for accidentally hitting a ball at a line judge.
When asked if that incident was still a factor, Djokovic replied “zero per cent. I’m over it.”
And despite starting the match with tape on the back of his neck to help with an injury, Djokovic succeeded in 3 hours 18 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I definitely didn’t feel great coming into the court today. Few things happened in the warm-up,” Djokovic explained his problem.
“I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I’ll just say that. I don’t want to get really too much into it. I’m feeling okay. As the match progressed, the pain faded away.”
He will now face Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final four after he dispatched Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to advance to his first Roland Garros semi-final.
“I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us,” Djokovic responded when asked about his next match.
Djokovic described Tsitsipas as “a complete, all-around player,” before adding “he’s one of the hardest-working guys out there.”
American Sofia Kenin and Czech Petra Kvitova will meet as the remaining ranked women in the semi-finals after triumphing in the last eight.
Seventh seed Kvitova cruised through with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Germany’s Laura Siegemund, while Kenin, seeded fourth, beat compatriot Danielle Collins 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 to book her first semi-final in the French major.
“I’ve got different things I can throw in to mix things up,” said Kenin when asked how she will approach playing Kvitova on Thursday.
“I’m super excited to be in the semifinals and to play her.”
Defending champion Rafael Nadal is already through to the final four and will play Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the other semi-final Friday.
Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska meets Poland’s Iga Swiatek in the other women’s semi after both unseeded players won through on Tuesday.
Djokovic was 4-2 down in the first set and he fired a backhand long to fall another break behind at 5-4, which allowed Carreno Busta to secure the lead.
Djokovic claimed three straight games in the third set before overtaking Carreno Busta at 5-3 and the top seed moved ahead on serve.
The 33-year-old Serb rallied to break for a slender 4-3 advantage in the fourth and at 5-4, Djokovic completed his redemption from his New York disqualification. And it was not the only rematch of the day.
Rublev won the last meeting with Tsitsipas in the final of a Hamburg tournament in the lead up to the French Open, but this time Tsitsipas was in full control of the match.
Rublev missed the opportunity to serve out the first set at 5-4 when Tsitsipas broke back and then sprinted to catch a forehand pass at the net to open set points at 6-5 and snatch the lead.
Tsitsipas broke serve four more times to claim his place in the final four with a volley after 1 hour 55 minutes.
Kvitova wasted no time in building a 4-1 opening lead on Court Philippe Chatrier and claimed the first set with a forehand winner.
The two-time Wimbledon winner traded four consecutive breaks of serve with Siegemund in the second set but Kvitova rallied to prevail.
Kvitova will play her first French Open semi-final since 2012, which she lost to eventual winner Maria Sharapova.
“Eight years ago I was young, I already won my Wimbledon title (in 2011) and I was kind of the favourite,” reflected Kvitova, who also reached the Australian Open final in 2019.
“I’m really glad in the last couple of years I improved my results. I’m proud of this, and I hope this journey, it will not end yet.”