Djokovic admits he was close to withdrawing

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Novak Djokovic says following his quarter-final win over Pablo Carreno Busta that he was almost unable to take the court on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic’s previous match against Pablo Carreno Busta ended in the first set, when he was abruptly defaulted in the fourth round of the US Open.

Their next match in the quarter-finals of the French Open almost never happened.

Djokovic took the court with tape on his neck and also struggled with an apparent left-arm injury, but he managed to battle through whatever issues he had to beat Carreno Busta in four sets. The top-ranked Serb admitted afterward that the physical problems he was experiencing almost left him unable to even play.

“I had an incident in warmup today,” Djokovic explained. “My physio Miljan (Amanovic) and the ATP doctor Poli have been working on my neck for two hours trying to make me fit enough to play. I have to admit, it was touch and go for a while; I was not sure whether I would be able to play. In the end we managed to sort it out.

“I do not want to go into too much detail as I am still in the tournament. Is there time for me to recover? Yes, there is. I have had similar situations in the past in my career and more often than not one day and a half were sufficient time to rest. I hope so.

“Also, today I have felt great since the middle of the match until the end, pain free. I hope that it is going to be fine.”

The world No 1 hopes to be ready to go for Friday’s semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek crushed Andrey Rublev in straight sets earlier on Wednesday.

It was certainly a much easier and more fun day at the office for Tsitsipas than for Djokovic. The 33-year-old dropped the first set and continued to struggle early in the second, looking frustrated almost the entire time. It was not until the final two sets that emotions began oozing from Djokovic as his winner count increased dramatically.

He was asked later why he waited so long to bring out the positive energy.

“I am not a robot,” Djokovic said. “I have got feelings, just like everyone, and on the court I experience a tornado of emotions. Sometimes I need to be focused only on myself, to block everything else out, other times I feel I need to release all of it in order to get myself going. It had happened in the past that I am able to turn things around when I am completely calm, and I have lost some big matches because of those emotional outbursts. So it is not a golden rule that those outbursts always work in my favour.”

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