This 22nd victory in a row in 2020, Novak Djokovic went to seek it a little further than all the others. Neck torn and belly painful, the Serb had to draw on his reserves to get out of the trap set by Roberto Bautista Agut (4-6, 6-4, 7-6 ), Friday, in the semi-finals of this Cincinnati relocated to New York. In the final, he will meet Milos Raonic, a striker inspired by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the other half.
Racket changes (three in the first set), sidelong glances towards his clan and mimicry of spite after his faults … Early in this meeting, Novak Djokovic showed that he was not very well on the court Louis- Armstrong. He was quickly jostled by a Spanish metronome who did not come out, or almost nothing, in the first set (100% backhand in the court).
Alternation between the average, the very good and the catastrophic
Faced with this opponent who had beaten him in their last three confrontations on hard, Djokovic seemed to no longer have the keys to the match. And his physical difficulties only accentuated this impression. After the loss of the first set, he called the physiotherapist to massage the neck which had made him suffer at the start of the tournament. Three times he asked to be manipulated to try to relieve his pain. In the third set, while he seemed to be less disturbed by this problem, it was stomach pains that would disrupt the mechanics.
In the game, the world n ° 1 spent the meeting alternating between the average, the very good, but also the catastrophic when, at 5-3 in the third, he gave up his service on a shutout even though he was used for the match. A double fault and three faults sent him back to the bench where he was hiding behind his briefcase to try to digest this missed opportunity. At that moment, you had to be a bit daring to bet on a victory for the Serbian. Even more a few minutes later when Bautista Agut, in turn, had the win at the end of his serve.
But, even weakened, the glutton of victories woke up to go for this new Masters 1000 final. Having become intractable again when we no longer expected him, he pulverized a helpless Spaniard in the decisive game, not leaving him the least point. Djokovic will have the opportunity to seek a new title on Saturday but he will also – and above all – have to watch out for his physical condition a few days before the start of the US Open, of which he is the big favorite.