Novak Djokovic issues honest fitness update after struggling in tight Paris SF win

Djokovic required a medical intervention for a back issue during a tight win over Andrey Rublev.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic issues honest fitness update after struggling in tight Paris SF win
© Getty Images Sport - Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Novak Djokovic admitted that he hasn't been feeling his best physically over the last couple of days after edging out Andrey Rublev in a three-setter at the Paris Masters. On Saturday, top-seeded Djokovic recovered from a set down to beat Rublev 5-7 7-6 (3) 7-5 and set up a Paris final against Grigor Dimitrov.

During the second-set tie-break - in which Djokovic converted his first set point to force a decider - the Serb was seen stretching out his back and that was a clear indication that he was dealing with a back issue. After winning the second-set tie-break, Djokovic received a medical timeout.

When the match resumed, Djokovic earned the lone break of the third set in the 12th game - the game in which Rublev was serving to stay in the match. "Well you obviously have to keep faith and belief that you still have gas left in the tank to manage to turn things around.

And that was obviously the fundamental thing today but also trying to play smart and understand tactically what kind of changes you need to make against Rublev who was in terrific form all tournament, especially today," Djokovic said after the match.

Djokovic hasn't been feeling his best physically

After needing three sets to beat Tallon Griekspoor in the Paris round-of-16 on Thursday, Djokovic revealed that he had been battling a stomach issue for days. After being hampered by a stomach issue against Griekspoor, Djokovic also dealt with a back issue during the Rublev match.

Although Djokovic didn't feel his best physically against Rublev, he still managed to beat the Russian and improve to 5-1 in their head-to-head meetings. "I have never faced Rublev playing so well. He was serving great, forehand - we know that he has one of the best forehands on tour - but his backhand was amazing.

So he didn’t really give me much room to breathe and to get close to the line to be the one that is dictating. So I had to serve well, which I did. And tiebreak was terrific, I found some great serves, great returns. And after that a break that allowed me to kind of recuperate and go into a third set feeling a bit fresher.

So I continued serving well and I was in his return games, waiting for the chances and unfortunate ending for him to finish with a double fault. But I kept going because I had a similar feeling yesterday and before yesterday to be honest I wasn’t feeling very good physically on the court.

But kept going and kept believing and playing point after point, waiting for the opportunities and very proud of another win," Djokovic explained. It remains to be seen how will Djokovic look in the Paris final against Dimitrov.

Novak Djokovic Andrey Rublev