Novak Djokovic recovered from accidentally hitting his ankle with his racket to win a three-hour classic 2-6 6-4 7-6 against Kei Nishikori. The world No.1’s painful blow came when he attempted to clean his shoes and after treatment he struggled initially before regaining his composure to set up a final meeting with Andy Murray.
In the end it was a thrilling for the Center Court crowd and Djokovic eventually won in a final set tiebreaker 7-5 after missing four previous match points. Clearly relieved he reflected on the injury.
“It was an awkward situation,” he said. “The first game, instead of cleaning my shoes, I hit myself pretty hard, ankle, and actually have a bruised bone which I have right now which was hurting for a while. Then the pain faded away but then returned towards the end of the match. Back and forth. I hope that tomorrow it’s going to be fine.
“But message to all the kids out there: Be aware, when you’re cleaning your shoes, make sure the frame hits your shoe.
“I thought it was even better than my match against Rafa and the way he was striking the ball. He was making it very tough for me to do anything, really, from the baseline but to defend and wait for the opportunities. Maybe in some games when his balls are maybe a bit shorter in the rally, which started to happen at the beginning of second set, but first set was flawless, I mean, from his side. I couldn’t do too much.”
Such a good quality match did not really deserve a loser and for Nishikori the overriding feeling was despair.
“I’m shamed and disappointed,” he said. “I think I was playing really good tennis in the first set. I was playing aggressive. I think I stopped doing that in second set. Also, he start playing better, too.
“In the third I think I could be little better, and he was giving me a lot of pressure and I wasn’t making much first serve like these other matches. So that was costing me a lot of points.
“I think in tiebreak I made too many unforced errors and, like, three in a row from 3-All. So that was the biggest mistake I had today.”