French Open: Novak Djokovic hopeful of full fitness as semi-final clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas looms


Novak Djokovic is optimistic he will be able to recover physically ahead of his French Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Having looked supreme through the first four rounds, the world No1 was in trouble against Pablo Carreno Busta in Wednesday’s quarter-final, struggling with his neck and arm before battling through in four sets.

Tsitsipas has improved through the tournament, not dropping a set since his opening match, when he fought back from two sets down against Jaume Munar.

Djokovic spoke highly of the Greek, who will play in a Grand Slam semi-final for the second time, saying: “He’s one of the best players in the world. Deservedly where he is in the rankings.

“He’s been playing the tennis of his life really in the last 12 months, winning the World Tour Finals, just being very consistent on all surfaces with his results.

“He has an all-around game. He’s a big guy, big serve. He has weapons, obviously serve and forehand, his backhand. He produces a lot of spin. He comes into the net. He can play aggressively. He can defend well because he moves well. He’s really a complete, all-around player.

“I expect a really tough, tough match, tough challenge for both of us. Semi-finals of a Grand Slam, this is what you expect. You expect to play a top-five, top-10 player. I’m hopefully going to be able to feel my best and play my best.”

Djokovic has only won four of his previous nine semi-finals at Roland Garros and has not made the final since his sole title on the Parisian clay in 2016.

Tsitsipas, 22, who is bidding to become the youngest male Grand Slam finalist since Juan Martin Del Potro 11 years ago, is expecting to face a fully fit opponent.

“An injury is not going to play [a part in] anything,” he said. “I have to play the way I have to play. I’m approaching that match with the same intensity and the same focus that I’ve been doing the last few matches.”

The other semi-final will pit 12-time champion Rafael Nadal against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who beat the Spaniard for the first time in 10 meetings in Rome three weeks ago.

History is still heavily in favour of Nadal, who is yet to drop a set this tournament, extending his win-loss record at Roland Garros to a stunning 98-2. He has also won all 12 of his previous semi-finals at the French Open.

Schwartzman said with a smile: “If I see the history, I’m not sure if I’m going to have a lot of confidence. But I know that I can beat him. That’s the important thing.”

PA

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