World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is through to the semifinals of the French Open after a four-set win over Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday. But Djokovic gave a scare to his fans early on as he seemed to be struggling with some issues related to his neck and shoulder.
Novak Djokovic had his neck taped as he walked on to the court for the match, and after losing the first set he called for the trainer who was seen massaging his arm.
After looking physically deflated during the first set, the Serb managed to recover his form and energy. He went on to win the next three matches rather comfortably to seal his spot in the last four.
Speaking later about the match, Novak Djokovic revealed he had some issues during the warm-up. However, he refrained from elaborating more since he was still in the tournament.
“I had some neck issues and some shoulders issues, I don’t want to reveal too much as I am still in the tournament,” Djokovic told the press after his match. “Pain faded away as the match went on and I warmed up.
"I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining and obviously he was a better player for a set and a half. I was hitting myself, which I don’t recommend. I definitely didn’t feel great on the court for an hour, hour and a half. I definitely didn’t feel great coming into the court today. A few things happened in the warmup," he added.
"But, you know, I don’t want to take away anything from his good performance. Especially for a 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 a set and a half to get comfortable and start really playing the way I should," Djokovic went on.
However, his opponent Pablo Carreno Busta had a different take on the whole issue. According to the Spaniard, Djokovic called for the trainer just because he was in a bad position in the match early on.
Novak Djokovic asking for the physio didn't surprise me: Pablo Carreno Busta
Incidentally, Carreno Busta was also the player on the opposite side of the net when Novak Djokovic was defaulted for accidentally hitting a linesperson at the US Open last month. The Spaniard said in his press conference on Wednesday that he wasn't surprised by Djokovic calling for the trainer, adding that the Serbian champion has a history of doing the same.
“He didn’t surprise me [that he asked for a physio],” Carreno Busta told the press. "It’s a good thing. It’s a sign that he is losing and that I was playing well, because he always does that. It’s something that he has been doing for years. When he is down, he asks for the trainer.”
Carreno Busta also brought up Djokovic's behavior at the US Open, and claimed that the Serb will continue 'doing this' in the future.
"Every time the game gets complicated, he 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," he added.
Those are strong words from Carreno Busta, and it seems like he is suggesting that Novak Djokovic was faking his injury. However, footage from the Serb's practice session earlier in the day showed that he was in discomfort even at that time, so it is possible that the Spaniard's comments are misinformed.
Carreno Busta did clarify later that none of the interruptions or gestures from Djokovic affected his concentration.
"I don't know if it's something chronic in his shoulder or just mental, but he didn't put me off," Carreno Busta said.
Novak Djokovic will meet Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday for a place in the Roland Garros final. Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman will meet in the second semifinal.