Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the French Open but battled back to beat Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 6-2 6-3, 6-4 and sets up a semi-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas.
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.
Djokovic struggled early on and appeared to be suffering with an injury as his opponent took the opening set. Djokovic’s arm and neck were clearly bothering him as the chance of an upset grew.
- David Goffin tests positive for Covid-19
- 'Terrible moment' - Djokovic incidents bring back DQ memory for Henman
- Highlights: Tsitsipas storms past Rublev to reach semi-finals
A month after being defaulted for striking a line judge with a ball while playing Carreno Busta in the US Open fourth round, Djokovic looked flat and had to save break points early in the second set before raising his game to level the match.
'That was a match of enormous stress!' - Djokovic beats Carreno Busta
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.
Highlights: Novak Djokovic recovers from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta
"My neck didn’t feel great," Djokovic said post-match. "My neck and a few more things.
"He was the better player for a set and a half, I didn’t take the ball early, he made all the shots. I didn’t feel great for about an hour. I found a rhythm in the middle of the second set – I was facing break points at 2-2 – but then I won about seven or eight games in row. The match turned around.
"These kind of matches are decided in a few points here and there. I am really pleased I managed to hang in there mentally.
"You have to be patient at times during matches like this, but at the same time be reactive, that’s what I lacked for a set and a half. I didn’t have that uppercut on the ball, I was quite neutral and he was making the play.
"Then I stepped it up. It was easier playing one end of the court actually, wind on your back, easier on your serve and easier to hit from the back of the court.
"Until the last shot you didn’t really know who was going to take this match so I am just really glad to overcome a big challenge like this."