Tennis

Pablo Carreno Busta accuses Novak Djokovic of feigning injury concerns

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta accused Novak Djokovic of gamesmanship during their French Open quarter-final yesterday morning (Singapore time), as he felt the world No. 1 did not have any genuine health issues despite appearing to battle injury problems.

Djokovic, 33, had his neck taped during the match and his movements seemed somewhat restricted during the opening set against the world No. 18.

He also called the trainer on court to work on some issue with his upper left arm.

But the top seed rallied to advance to tonight's semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win.

"Each time he is in trouble, he usually does it, that means to say that he was in trouble, that he wasn't comfortable and that I was playing at a high level and was causing him to doubt himself," Carreno Busta told reporters in Spanish.

"Every time a match gets complicated, he asks for medical assistance. He has been doing this for a long time... I knew it would happen at the US Open, I knew it would happen here and I know it will keep on happening.

"I don't know if it's something chronic in his shoulder or just mental, but he didn't put me off."

Djokovic, who is chasing his 18th Major, looked stiff and banged his racket against his thigh in frustration as Carreno Busta took the opening set, the first that the Serb has lost at this year's clay-court Grand Slam.

"I don't know, maybe it's the pressure or something that he needs to do it. But he continues playing normal, no? I don't know if he's (in) pain really or he has mental (issues). Ask him," Carreno Busta said in English.

Djokovic's former coach Boris Becker believes that the Serb is feeling the pressure as he gets closer to becoming the first man in 50 years to win all four Grand Slams twice.

"No, it wasn't that at all," Djokovic snapped back, insisting that he has neck and shoulder issues, not mental ones.

"I told you guys many times I'm over it. I'm not thinking about it at all. I mean, zero per cent."

Tonight's other semi-final will see 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal face Argentinian Diego Schwartzman.

In last night's women's semi-finals, teenager Iga Swiatek became the first Polish woman in 81 years to reach the French Open final as she ousted Argentinian Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-1. She will meet 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-5. - REUTERS

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