World no. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to his tenth Roland Garros semi-final, beating Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and ten minutes. Struggling with some injury in the opener and steeping on the court with a taped neck, Novak had to work hard to overpower the Spaniard, recovering after the opening set and controlling the pace in the rest of the clash to set the clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Both players had more winners than unforced errors and it was Novak who played on a higher level when it mattered the most, producing six breaks and giving serve away thrice to cross the finish line first. Novak served at 40% in the opening set, struggling physically and spraying 16 unforced errors.
Pablo had the advantage in the shortest rallies, taming his strokes nicely to deliver two breaks and move in front. After four comfortable holds on both sides, Carreno Busta drew first blood in game five, creating a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner and seizing it following a terrible forehand from the Serb to move 3-2 in front.
Hitting his left hand during the break, Djokovic held at 15 in game seven to stay in touch, pulling the break back when Pablo hit a double fault in game eight to level the score at 4-4. The Serb wasted a game point and got broken after losing a battle of backhands, allowing Carreno Busta to seal the set with a forehand down the line winner in game ten after 48 minutes.
Djokovic started to serve better in set number two and feel the ball, hitting 13 winners and seven unforced errors to recover and keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Pablo wasted all three break chances and suffered two breaks to hand the set to world no.
1 who was in control now. The Spaniard wasted two break opportunities in game three and got broken in the next one when Djokovic forced an error. The Serb survived another break point in game five to open a 4-1 gap, sealing the set with a break at love thanks to a return winner in game eight for 6-2.
Novak Djokovic is through to his tenth Roland Garros semi-final.
Feeling much better than in the opener, Novak produced respectable numbers in set number three, landing 14 winners and seven unforced errors to challenge the rival who struggled again behind the initial shot.
Djokovic survived break chances in the third set’s opening game, which is always important, stealing Pablo’s serve with a drop shot winner in game two that sent him in front. From 3-0 down, Carreno Busta bounced back with a break at 15 at 1-3 following a forehand winner.
Novak saved a break point in game seven to remain in front, broke Pablo in the next one and closed the set with a hold at love at 5-3 to open two sets to one advantage. Giving his best to stay in touch, Carreno Busta saved the first five break chances in set number four’s games three and five before spraying a terrible forehand error at the net at 3-3 to push Djokovic in front.
Serving in game eight, Djokovic remained focused and repelled three break points to move 5-3 ahead, forcing Pablo to serve for staying in the match. The Spaniard closed the ninth game with a service winner, reducing the deficit and having to pull the break back if he wanted to extend the duel.
Serving for the win, Novak sealed the deal with a forehand winner, moving into the semis and remaining on the title course.