French Open 2016

Tennis: Djokovic lucky to survive

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returning the ball to Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic returning the ball to Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych.PHOTO: AFP
Dominic Thiem serving during his match against Belgium's David Goffin. The Austrian made it to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
Dominic Thiem serving during his match against Belgium's David Goffin. The Austrian made it to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Serb makes it to semi-finals after going close to disqualification for a careless racket toss

PARIS • Novak Djokovic reached his 30th Grand Slam semi-final at the French Open yesterday to move two wins away from a first Roland Garros title and a career Grand Slam.

The world No. 1 defeated Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-3, claiming a place in an eighth Roland Garros semi-final and sixth in succession.

But the 29-year-old Serb, who will face Dominic Thiem for a place in the final after the Austrian beat David Goffin of Belgium 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-1, came perilously close to being disqualified in the second game of the third set.

Frustrated at missing a break point, the Serb smashed his racket into the ground before it flew into the back wall on Philippe Chatrier Court. Had it hit the nearby line judge, he would have been disqualified.

Not surprisingly, he offered a speedy apology for his actions to chair umpire Eva Asderaki Moore.

"It's the quarter-final of a Grand Slam, always a difficult match to play tactically," said Djokovic, a three-time runner-up in Paris whose quarter-final was played out in a damp chill where temperatures slumped to 12 deg C.

"The conditions were difficult but they are the same for all the players."

The world No. 1's win was his 24th in 26 meetings against Berdych and his 11th in a row.

He raced through the first set with breaks in the seventh and ninth games before stretching out to a 4-2 lead in the second.

Berdych broke for the first time to get to 3-4 but Djokovic restored his advantage in the 12th game for a two-set lead.

The two men exchanged breaks in the first two games of the third before Berdych became angry over the deteriorating wet conditions.

"It's a circus, just one big circus," he fumed at tournament referee Wayne McKewen, who took the players off for a brief stoppage to allow the rain to pass.

On resuming, Djokovic broke for 5-3 and took the victory when Berdych dumped a service return into the net.

The Serb was playing for the third day in succession after a washout on Monday and just two hours of action on Tuesday.

If he wins an elusive French Open title, the top seed, who is also the Wimbledon, US and Australian Open champion, would have played five matches in six days.

Today's other semi-final will see second seed Andy Murray take on Swiss third seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Djokovic lucky to survive'. Print Edition | Subscribe