Was Novak Djokovic's medical stoppage some French Open gamesmanship? His opponent thinks so

Jack Baer
·2-min read

Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the French Open on Wednesday thanks to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta. His opponent wasn’t entirely happy with how he got there.

Following the match, Carreno Busta, ranked No. 18 in the world, suggested to the New York Post that Djokovic receiving medical treatment after dropping the first set was less about his health and more about gamesmanship:

“He didn’t surprise me [by asking for a medical timeout]. It’s a good thing. It’s a sign that he is losing and that I was playing well, because he always does that,” Carreno Busta told reporters. “Every time the match gets complicated, he asks for medical assistance.

“It’s something that he has been doing for years. When he is down, he asks for the trainer. I don’t know, maybe it’s the pressure or something that he needs to do it. But, I mean, he continues playing normal, no? I don’t know if he’s [in] pain really or [the issue is] mental. Ask him.”

Djokovic revealed directly after the match that he entered Wednesday dealing with some neck and shoulder issues, but didn’t delve too far into their severity:

“I definitely didn’t feel great coming onto the court today, a few things happened in the warm-up,” Djokovic said. “I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I don’t really want to get too much into it.

“I’m feeling OK, I’m still in the tournament so I don’t want to reveal too much. As the match went on, I felt better, didn’t feel as much pain.”

Djokovic also reportedly conceded that Carreno Busta was the better player for “a set and a half.”

The world No. 1 is now set to face No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals on Friday. We’ll see if he needs any treatment during that match as well.

Funnily enough, this is nowhere close to the most controversial incident in a Grand Slam match between Djokovic and Carreno Busta this year. That “honor” belongs to a certain match that ended when the Serbian player struck a line judge with a ball at the US Open.

PARIS, FRANCE October 07.  Novak Djokovic of Serbia receiving treatment on his elbow during his match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in the Quarter Finals of the singles competition on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on October 7th 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic received medical treatment after losing a set in the French Open on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

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