Novak Djokovic’s right wrist is the most relieved wrist in Flushing.
For the third time at this U.S. Open, Djokovic didn’t have to finish his match to advance as No. 9 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga turned into French pastry and retired Tuesday night after losing the first two sets, claiming to have a sore left knee.
Boos rained down from the Arthur Ashe Stadium night crowd after Tsonga quit at 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. The fans stayed dry with the match played under the new roof because of a steady drizzle, but they didn’t leave satisfied. The crowd of 23,000 didn’t see much of a show as the first match — the women’s quarterfinal between Caroline Wozniacki and Anastasija Sevastova was an noncompetitive 6-0, 6-2 rout.
Djokovic, who came into the Open bothered by a sore wrist, has played just nine sets in five matches to reach the semifinals. Three of Djokovic’s matches weren’t played to their conclusion, including a walkover over Jiri Vesley in the second round.
Up next for the world’s No. 1 player and defending Open champion is Gaels Monfils, also from France. It’s the tenth straight year Djokovic has made it to the Open’s final weekend.
Djokovic said he isn’t worried about rust, just rest.
“I played so many matches this year,’’ said Djokovic, who had his new friends Ben Stiller and Hugh Jackman in his box. “Before the U.S. Open, I was wishing I had more time off. The universe granted me with that. I’m grateful for time to recover. I reached the semifinals feeling fresh and healthy. I see only positives. The scenario is ideal.’’
A trainer treated Tsonga for his left knee in the second set but he was not limping even slightly on the court. Djokovic outclassed the 31-year-old who has never made it to an Open semifinal. With no French resistance, Tsonga appeared content to take home the $450,000 quarterfinal prize money.
“It’s already tough to play one of the world’s best players, but when I don’t have my knee and [when it’s] 2-0, it’s important to save what I can save,” Tsonga said.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,’’ Djokovic said. “I can only wish my opponents a speedy recovery.”
Djokovic said he felt Tsonga’s serve had slowed so the knee must have been hurting.
“He’s a fighter who loves the big stage,’’ Djokovic said, attempting to win three Grand Slam singles titles for the year as he did in 2015. “I’m sure it’s not something he wished for and didn’t want this to happen.”
Tsonga committed 37 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 12. Djokovic allowed just two break points and may have worn out Tsonga mentally more than physically.