Tennis fans have accused Novak Djokovic of feigning injury after the World No.1 shrugged off a number of issues to book his spot in the French Open semi-finals.
Djokovic reached his 10th French Open semi-final by beating Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.
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A month after being defaulted for striking a line judge with a ball while playing Carreno Busta in the US Open fourth round, the 33-year-old Serbian found himself in trouble once again.
However, it wasn't with officials but rather his body which seemed to be causing the Serbian star numerous problems.
Djokovic appeared to be battling pains in his arm and neck, before going on to lose the opening set to the 17th seed - the first one he'd dropped all tournament.
After his sluggish start though, the 17-time grand slam champion saved break points early in the second set before raising his game to level the match.
It looked plain sailing when he led 3-0 in the third set before a dip allowed Carreno Busta back but Djokovic saved a break point at 3-3 before pulling away.
Djokovic, bidding for a second French Open crown, produced several loud roars as he tried to fire himself up.
Carreno Busta hung on gamely but Djokovic was superior in the big moments and one break in the fourth was enough to set up a semi-final clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Viewers were less than convinced by Djokovic's injury scares throughout the match, insisting he has a tendency for such theatrics when out on court.
Djokovic goes behind = injuries miraculously appear. It happens every single match he’s losing in.— Ian Dent (@Yarnsey) October 7, 2020
Djokovic miraculously recovers from an injury mid-match for the umpteenth time in his career. 😴— Nathan Smith (@NSmithy29) October 7, 2020
I feel like this is a good time to repeat that I do not like Novak Djokovic. Which doesn’t mean I don’t respect his achievements. But how he seemingly comes up with an injury every time he feels he might be in trouble and then miraculously wins doesn’t sit right with me. #RG20— Ina (@inagrrr) October 7, 2020
i wish i loved anything as much as djokovic loves acting like any minor muscle discomfort is a life threatening injury— GOREdan Freiman (but like... it's a soft G) (@JordanFreiman) October 7, 2020
Players need to learn from @stanwawrinka who doesn’t let Djoković’s injuries get in his head— Austin Nale (@AustinLNale) October 7, 2020
Another reason Djokovic will never be loved as much as Fed and Nadal is because of his on court cat and mouse injury antics. He always has the biggest “imaginary” injury that always ends up having no effect on the outcome of the match. #RolandGarros— George IV (@GFDIV) October 7, 2020
World No.1 overcomes injury scares
Djokovic opened up slightly on his injury problems post-match but was reluctant to give too much away.
"It didn't feel great but I don't really want to talk about that in detail, it sounds like complaining," he said.
"He (Carreno Busta) was the better player for the first half, he made all the shots.
"I definitely didn't feel great for an hour, an hour and a half. I don't recommend this (hitting his arms) to anybody at home. But I found a rhythm in the second set, faced some break points and then won 7-8 games in a row.
"This kind of match is decided in a few moments and I'm really pleased I got there mentally.
“I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t want to get really too much into it. Obviously I’m still in the tournament, so I don’t want to reveal too much.”
While some fans questioned the World No.1's ailments, others were just glad he came through the match OK.
Novak Djokovic on his struggles with injury today: “I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I’ll just say that. I mean, I don’t want to get really too much into it. Obviously I’m still in the tournament, so I don’t want to reveal too much.” #RG20— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 7, 2020
I was too quick to jump! I am so happy that Djokovic finally won. It is still worrying me, his injuries. 🎾#RolandGarros— Liz Gonzalez (@EKGonzalez1979) October 7, 2020
Yeaahhh come on Novak Djokovic! He didn't have the best start and played with all those injuries! I really didn't think he was going to pull through but he did it in the end 💪🏽 #RolandGarros2020— 🧜🏽♀️ (@sss_nali) October 7, 2020
Djokovic always starts a little slow so I'm not worried about that. But I have to admit he's definitely got an injury. His left arm is preventing his backhands from flowing. Bicep/tricep/ neck issue. It doesn't look good. But I'm hoping it may loosen out but looks ominous. 😫🙏— Pavvy G (@pavyg) October 7, 2020
Tsitsipas books semi-final date with Djoker
Djokovic's semi-final opponent Tsitsipas stormed into the last four with a clinical 7-5 6-2 6-3 victory over Andrey Rublev.
Tsitsipas's only moments of concern came in the opening set when Russian Rublev, the 13th seed, made a brisk opening to lead 5-3.
Yet four games later, Rublev had surrendered the set, and barely more than an hour later, he had lost the match, winning only five more games in what proved a one-sided encounter with the No.5 seed.
"I've been feeling really comfortable on this court and despite a bad start and being a break down I remembered what a big fighter I am," Tsitsipas told the sparse crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier afterwards.
"It's about fighting and trying to find solutions at difficult moments. I managed to get my brain working and found solutions.
"Roland Garros is a tournament I have been watching since I was a kid and always dreamed of playing on these courts.
"I used to skip classes at school to watch it. That's how much I like this tournament. It's a dream come true playing here and in front of the public."
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