Top seed advances to the semi-finals for the 10th consecutive year.
A lot can happen in 10 years, but little has changed for Novak Djokovic at the US Open. As it has been the case for every year since 2007, the Serbian is into the last four at the year’s final Grand Slam event. American tennis legend Jimmy Connors holds the record with 12 straight semi-final showings.
"I put myself in a position again to be one match away from the final. As the tournament progresses, I feel like I'm getting better," Djokovic said. "I'm reaching my peak in terms of my form."
The World No. 1 and defending US Open champion advanced on Tuesday night when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired due to a knee injury, with Djokovic leading 6-3, 6-2. He first announced himself to the New York crowd with a run to the final in 2007 (l. to Federer), then captured the title in 2011 (d. Nadal) and 2015 (d. Federer).
Even if fully healthy, Tsonga would have had his hands full with the in-form Djokovic. The Serbian won their first tour-level meeting to claim his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open eight years ago and came into the match with a 15-6 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. In the two sets played on Tuesday night, Djokovic once against used his superior defensive acumen to nullify Tsonga’s booming inside-out forehand, and guided his two-handed backhands down the line to exploit the Frenchman’s court positioning.
Djokovic amassed 18 winners and 12 unforced errors during the abbreviated match, while Tsonga, frequently going for broke due to his impaired movement, hit 11 winners and 36 unforced errors. One of the best returners in the game, the Serbian won 18 of 25 points when facing the Tsonga second serve.
In the semi-finals, Djokovic will face Gael Monfils for the 13th time at tour-level. The FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup has been a favorable one for Djokovic over the years. He leads the series 12-0 and has not dropped a set to the Frenchman in more than two years.
"I love watching Gael," Djokovic said. "He's one of the players that I will definitely pay a ticket to watch. He's very charismatic. He plays with a smile. He enjoys tennis and enjoys life. In my eyes, this is what everybody is supposed to be like, whether you're a sportsman or not. Bring that smile; bring that good energy. That's why people like him.
"But also, he seems more focused at this time of his career. Especially on the hard court this year, he's playing the best tennis he's ever played. He's very consistent. He hasn't dropped a set before the semis. That says a lot about the level he's at. Definitely expecting a tough battle."