World no. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to his tenth Roland Garros semi-final following a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Pablo Carreno Busta in three hours and ten minutes on Wednesday. Struggling with neck and shoulder issues in the opener, Novak received a couple of medical timeouts and started feeling better from set number two to prevail in four sets.
Carreno Busta defeated Novak at the US Open when the Serb got defaulted, hoping for another triumph over the world's leading player in Paris. Pablo made a good start but couldn't match Novak's numbers in the rest of the clash, finishing his run in the quarters.
After the match, the Spaniard wasn't pleased with Djokovic's medical timeouts, saying he calls them every time he is behind. Pablo saw no issues with Novak's shots or movement after the first set, not knowing if he had real physical problems, or it was just a mental thing.
Djokovic finished the encounter with 53 winners and 41 unforced errors, suffering three breaks and delivering six to reach the semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. After four comfortable holds on both sides, Carreno Busta drew first blood in game five, creating a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner and seizing it following a disastrous forehand from the Serb to move 3-2 in front.
Djokovic held at 15 at 2-4 to stay in touch, pulling the break back when Pablo hit a double fault to level the score at 4-4. The Serb wasted a game point and got broken after losing a battle of backhands, allowing Carreno Busta to seal the set with a forehand down the line winner in game ten after 48 minutes.
Djokovic recovered his strokes in set number two, serving better and hitting 13 winners and seven unforced errors. The Spaniard wasted two break opportunities in game three and got broken in the next one when Djokovic forced a mistake.
Pablo Carreno Busta is not sure about Novak Djokovic's injury.
The Serb survived another break point in game five to open a 4-1 gap, sealing the set with a break at love thanks to a return winner in game eight for 6-2.
Djokovic survived break chances in the third set's opening game, stealing Pablo's serve with a drop shot winner a few minutes later. Carreno Busta bounced back with a break at 15 at 1-3 following a forehand winner. Novak saved a break point at 3-3 to remain in front, broke Pablo in the next one and closed the set with a hold at love at 5-3 to open two sets to one advantage.
Giving his best to stay in touch, Carreno Busta repelled the first five break chances in set number four's games three and five before spraying a terrible forehand mistake at the net at 3-3 to push Djokovic in front. Serving in game eight, Novak remained focused and repelled three break points to move 5-3 ahead, forcing Pablo to serve for staying in the match.
The Spaniard closed the ninth game with a service winner, reducing the deficit before Novak sealed the deal with a forehand winner at 5-4, moving into the semis and remaining on the title course. "Probably the last couple of years, Novak is always doing this when he has problems on the court.
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 in real pain, or is it mental; you have to ask him. Every time the match gets complicated, Novak asks for medical assistance.
He has been doing this for a long time... I knew what would happen at the US Open, what would happen here and what will continue to happen. At the beginning of the match, I think that I play well. I took advantage of the opportunities on the return.
Then, at the beginning of the second set, I have it again but didn't seize them. That was when he started to play better," Pablo Carreno Busta said.