World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is defending his title at Flushing Meadows, beat Gael Monfils in a four-set 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory to progress to the finals for the second year running.
The pair’s head-to-head record had been 12-0 in favour fo Djokovic, with no unexpected results here, but Monfils did trouble the Serb somewhat, in humid conditions that taxed both players seriously.
Monfils looked listless until the third set, when the tall Frenchman appeared to suddenly come to life, and up a break of serve, won five games on the trot. With neither player obviously at 100% in the hot conditions, Djokovic was unable to capitalize on three break points in that set, which gave the third to Monfils. That saw Djokovic tear off his shirt in frustration, with Monfils his usual self attempting to amuse himself and the crowd.
That was not the only bizarre thing that occured during the match.
Obviously low on energy, Djokovic also saw several body aches – most key his shoulder, which he has had trouble with this year. That prompted the first of his two medical time-outs during the match, and shortly after this his French rival was also seen in serious pain, nearly unable to move around the court.
Djokovic came into the semi-finals after a series of retirements from his rivals, meaning that the semi against Monfils would only be his third complete match after 2nd round opponent Jiri Vesely, 3rd round rival Mikhail Youzhny, and quarter-final rival Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ALL retired with injury or fatigue.
Given Monfils’ lack of energy on court, this could well have been the fourth time that happened.
So tired had the ‘Sliderman’ been that at one point, drained from sweating and fatigue, the tall Frenchman paused play to order an aerated beverage on court. Four sets in, Novak Djokovic closed out the match with a fairly simple shot – one that Monfils could easily have otherwise made on a good day.
Today, Monfils was unable to move in perhaps one of the strangest matches we have seen – and at the semi-final of a Grand Slam.
Djokovic will play Stan Wawrinka in the finals; the Swiss reached his first US Open final with a win over Kei Nishikori, who finished runner-up in 2014. Should Djokovic win, it will be his third title at the US Open.
One may wonder, now, however, whether Djokovic will be able to go the extra mile in the finals given Wawrinka’s increasingly quick form and his own injuries and troubles in 2016.