New York | Defending champion Novak Djokovic booked a 10th straight US Open semi-final appearance when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired trailing 6-3, 6-2 in their marquee quarter-final on Tuesday.
It was the third time in five matches that an opponent’s injury has worked to Djokovic’s advantage, after his walkover into the third round where Mikhail Youzhny retired after just six games.
Ninth-seeded Tsonga gave him more of a workout, but even before an apparent left knee injury began to trouble the Frenchman in the second set Djokovic had the match well in hand.
The Serbian world number one will face another Frenchman, Gael Monfils, for a place in Sunday’s championship match after the 10th seed pummelled compatriot Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
It was the first time in 89 years that three French men had reached the quarter-finals of the US championships. Tsonga was the highest seed among them, but his challenge ended with a whimper.
Down two breaks at 2-5 in the second, he called for the trainer, wincing as his knee was manipulated. A merciless Djokovic then served out the set at love, firing a 118 mph (189.9 Km/h) ace — his first of the contest — on set point.
After Tsonga opened the third set with a double fault he called a halt.
“I really wish Jo a quick recovery,” Djokovic said. “He’s a fighter, he’s somebody that loves the big stage.” But Tsonga wasn’t able to shine on that stage. Despite an entertaining array of shots, the longer the rallies went the more he missed, his unforced errors eventually climbing to 37.
He gifted a break to Djokovic with three double faults to fall behind 2-4 in the opening set, and while he regained the break he dropped his serve again in the next game and suddenly Djokovic was serving for the set.
A break for 2-1 in the second was the only opening Djokovic needed. He backed up the break with an emphatic hold at love, broke again for 5-2 and didn’t face a break point in the second frame.