Novak Djokovic reaches US Open semi-final after completing just two matches
Novak Djokovic is into his 10th consecutive Us Open semi-final after completing only two matches and spending just six hours and 26 minutes on court.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s withdrawal from last night quarter-final when trailing two sets means Djokovic has benefitted from two mid-match retirements (Mikhail Youzhny quit after just six games in the third round) and a walkover, after Jiri Vesely pulled out of their second round match.
Given Djokovic came into the tournament nursing a wrist injury,which forced him to withdraw from the Cincinnati Masters, the spate of withdrawals has been a major blessing.
The world No 1 said after defeating Tsonga: “This was the scenario that I needed and I wished for.
“I got a lot of days off and recovered my body. Right now I’m feeling very close to the peak. That’s the position where I want to be.”
Djokovic has spent far less time on court than his rivals,with Juan Martin del Potro the closest to him at eight hours and 24 minutes having played a round fewer.
The worry for the Serb’s rivals, starting with his semi-final opponent Gael Monfils on Friday, is that his extra freshness will allow him to play the devastatingly effective attritional game that has been the plat In the French Open final earlier this year for instance, Djokovic clearly benefitted from having spent five hours fewer on court than his exhausted looking opponent Andy Murray, and was able to dominate the points after the most energy sapping rallies.
Should Djokovic get to the final in New York, he will again have likely spent a similar margin less on court than his opponent.
We’re yet to see if Djokovic’s wrist can stand up to the rigours of a grand slam, and in many ways we won’t really find that out for the rest of the tournament. Because to win the US Open, Djokovic will need to win 14 sets, which is only a few more than is required to win a Masters event, and 50% less than is normally needed to win a major.
Of course all Djokovic can do is take advantage of his good fortune, and he should and will make no apologies for the questionable fitness of some of his opponents. It’s also a credit to the world No 1 that he is so relentlessly physical in the way he plays that many players simply can’t live with him and are forced to withdraw.
We may only know how beneficial the extra rest has been to Djokovic by the time the final comes around, as it has been suggested that he needs game time after completing just 11 matches since the end of the French Open (Murray by way of contrast has played 27).
Either way the Serb will surely enjoy kicking back today in one of his hyperbaric oxygen pods while watching most of the rest of the field battling it out in the New York heat.