Djokovic: 'The Pain Kind Of Faded Away'
Novak Djokovic did not have it easy Wednesday evening at Roland Garros, overcoming neck and shoulder issues to find his form and battle past Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets to reach the semi-finals for the 10th time. Although it wasn’t perfect, the Serbian explained on court after the match that he keeps things in perspective.
Reaching the last four at a Grand Slam, whether his victory was pretty or not, is still a big accomplishment.
“These four tournaments, the four Grand Slams matter the most probably in tennis history. [They are] the most popular tennis events in the world. A lot of kids, when they take a racquet in their hands, they dream of winning Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been very fortunate to play very well throughout my career in Grand Slams.
“It’s not only my success. It’s the success of my team, my family that has been supporting me throughout my whole life. It wasn’t easy growing up in a war-torn country and without any tennis guidance or tennis tradition, really. To succeed in this beautiful sport means a lot to me. I try to be conscious of every achievement, be grateful for it and put things in perspective.”
"A lot of kids when they take the racquet in their hands they dream of winning, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, Australian Open or US Open..."@DjokerNole out here doing his best to inspire the next generation.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/u0h1FkLOzX— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 7, 2020
Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam titles, trailing only Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19) for the most in history. The Serbian is also the only player to complete the Career Golden Masters — winning all nine ATP Masters 1000 events — which he has done twice.
The World No. 1 is still very much alive at Roland Garros after a resilient performance against 17th seed Carreno Busta, who was pursuing his first semi-final appearance in Paris.
“I'm feeling okay,” Djokovic said. “As the match progressed, I warmed up my body and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better.”
Djokovic made an uncharacteristic 16 unforced errors in the first set. But he cut down his mistakes, only making 25 unforced errors in the next three sets combined. The top seed will next face reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is into his maiden Roland Garros semi-final.
“He's one of the best players in the world, deservedly where he is in [FedEx ATP] Rankings. He's been playing the tennis of his life in the past 12 months,” Djokovic said. “He has an all-around game. He's a big guy, big serve. He has weapons, obviously [his] serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well.”
Djokovic has won three of their five ATP Head2Head meetings, including a 6-3, 6-4 victory in their only previous clay-court clash in last year’s Mutua Madrid Open final. But the Serbian knows the 22-year-old has improved steadily since then.
“I think he's one of the hardest-working guys out there. He has a great team, obviously his father, Patrick Mouratoglou in his corner as well,” Djokovic said. “I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us. [It’s the] semi-finals of a Grand Slam, this is what you expect. You expect to play a top five, top 10 player. This is what I get. I'm hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”