Novak Djokovic wasn’t going to let a shoulder injury or intense scrutiny into his marriage affect his match against Adrian Mannarino. The Serbian tennis star has now entered the 2017 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
John McEnroe helped spark media speculation when he commented that Djokovic’s form might have dipped of late because of “issues with his wife”.
Novak Djokovic may wish he had as much time to prepare for his next match as he did for his previous one.
A lingering right shoulder injury flared up in Djokovic’s victory over 51st-ranked Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, adding a measure of doubt to his quarterfinal match against 11th-seeded Tomas Berdych on Wednesday.
Djokovic, who won 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4 under a closed roof at Centre Court, had his match delayed from the night before after Gilles Muller needed 4 hours, 48 minutes to defeat Rafael Nadal.
“It’s been something that I’ve been dragging back and forth for a while now,” said Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion and 12-time Grand Slam winner. “But I’m still managing to play, which is the most important thing.”
Later, when asked in Serbian about the injury, Djokovic said through a translator: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
After Djokovic took a 4-3 lead in the third set, he called for a medical timeout and had a trainer work on his right shoulder.
He also winced following the first serve of his third and final match point – a 24-shot rally that ended when Mannarino’s forehand went into the net.
The match between Djokovic and Mannarino was originally scheduled for No. 1 Court on Monday, but Muller’s victory, which ended after 8:30 p.m., led to the decision to push it back a day.
Djokovic said he and Mannarino were in communication with tournament organizers throughout the evening. They were told fan safety was the reason why they did not move the match to Centre Court, which was vacant after Roger Federer‘s three-set victory over Grigor Dimitrov.
“I just think it was a wrong decision not to play us last night, because we could have played,” Djokovic said. “I think the last match on the Centre Court was done before 7. Having in mind that Centre Court has the roof and lights, we could have played ’til 11. I just didn’t see any logic in not playing us on the Centre Court.”
Rain began to fall on Tuesday about 30 minutes before Djokovic and Mannarino were to begin, and as others were suspended, they played the first match of the tournament under the roof.
Djokovic broke his opponent twice in the first set and took a 4-1 lead in the second before Mannarino, who matched his best finish in a Grand Slam event by reaching the fourth round, broke back and then forced the tiebreaker.
Several rallies went more than 15 shots, including one that went 29 and ended with the Frenchman picking up a break point in the second set.
“I think that after a while, I realized that playing full power was useless against Novak because he was responding well,” Mannarino said. “He was moving well. When I tried to slow the game down, I think that I was feeling more comfortable.”
One thing that did cause Djokovic concern was the appearance of what he called a “hole” in the middle of the court near the service line. After the match, he pointed the spot out to chair umpire Carlos Bernardes.
“He wanted me to show him, so I showed him,” Djokovic said. “His reaction wasn’t that great.”
With the victory, Djokovic will be one of an event-record five quarterfinalists aged 30 or older, with Berdych, Federer, Muller and Andy Murray also advancing.
Berdych, who defeated Dominic Thiem on Monday, last beat Djokovic in Miami in 2013. He also won in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2010, when he was the runner-up to Nadal.
Also rekindling their history in the quarterfinals will be Federer, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, and Milos Raonic, who will meet for the third time in four years.
After Federer won in straight sets in the semifinals in 2014, Raonic beat him in five sets last year before losing to Murray in the final.
“Roger’s been the best player I think this year, hands down, when he’s been on court,” Raonic said. “But it’s not about six months or whatnot. It comes down to Wednesday, one day, so I’ve just got to try to find a way to try to be better on that day.”
The top-ranked Murray will face 24th-seeded Sam Querrey, with the winner facing either Muller or Marin Cilic in the semifinals.
Querrey, who is from the United States, is in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year and has only beaten Murray once in eight previous meetings.
“The crowd is going to be behind him,” Querrey said, “but sometimes, it’s fun to go out there and play where the crowd is behind the other player 100 percent.”
Bothered by what he called a “hole” at Centre Court, Novak Djokovic complained about the condition of the grass at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Djokovic, who defeated Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round, said the courts are among the worst he’s played on in his 13 years at the All England Club.
“(The) courts, honestly, are not that great this year and many players feel the same, but it is what it is,” Djokovic said in a television interview after his match ended. “I’m sure they’re trying their best, but I’ve played on better courts.”
Djokovic, a three-time Wimbledon champion and 12-time Grand Slam winner, initially expressed his disappointment with the court condition following a third-round victory over Ernests Gulbis on Saturday.
On Tuesday, playing with the roof closed, Djokovic could be seen after points picking up or kicking away small portions of grass that had loosened up on the baseline.
The second-seeded Serb lodged his disappointment with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes during the match and pointed out the issue afterward.
“He wanted me to show him, so I showed him,” Djokovic said at a news conference. “His reaction wasn’t that great.”
Mannarino, who had not played on Centre Court until he faced Djokovic, said his only concern about the surface was that he had to make sure he didn’t slip during the match.
“To me, the Centre Court (was) really good, actually,” Mannarino said. “Maybe he was complaining a little bit, but compared to the other courts I’ve been playing on before, it was good.”
Tuesday was the first day persistent rain moved over southwest London since Wimbledon started. Because of the dry conditions, the 18 courts saw nearly uninterrupted play over the first seven days of the tournament, which led to consistent wear.
Neil Stubley, the club’s head of courts and horticulture, said on Saturday that the measurements his staff had taken over the first week of play showed that the grass was considered to be healthy and within the acceptable standards of use.
He also expressed confidence that the surface at Centre Court would be able to hold up over the second week.
Simona Halep, whose quarterfinal loss to Johanna Konta was the third match on Centre Court on Tuesday, said she didn’t notice the hole Djokovic had mentioned.
And Djokovic said the issue wasn’t one of safety as much as it was about fair play.
“Grass is probably the most demanding and complex surface for maintenance,” he said. “The more you play on it, the worse it actually gets, unfortunately.”