WORLD No1 Novak Djokovic admitted he was fortunate to still be in the hunt for a maiden French Open crown despite easing past seventh seed Tomas Berdych to reach a sixth successive Roland Garros semi-final.
Djokovic comfortably dispatched Berdych in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3, but could have landed himself in hot water after angrily bouncing his racquet on the ground, having missed a break point early in the third set.
The discarded racquet narrowly missed a line judge, and while Djokovic will now face Austrian 13th seed Dominic Thiem in the last four, the 29-year-old acknowledged things could have been very different.
“It’s obvious what I tried to do,” he said. “I threw a racquet on the ground and it slipped and almost hit the line umpire. I was lucky there. That’s all.”
Argentine David Nalbandian was disqualified from the 2012 Aegon Championships final at Queen’s Club after kicking an advertising hoarding into a line’s judges shin.
Djokovic’s misdemeanour in Paris yesterday, meanwhile, was similar to the events in this year’s Rome Masters final when his racquet bounced into the crowd.
“I am aware that I have been lucky, and I apologised to people that have been in this particular situation with me and that could have been hurt by my racquet,” added Djokovic.
“But it was never the intention. It was just an unfortunate bounce, but a fortunate ending of that scenario. That’s all I can say.”
Top seed Serena Williams, meanwhile, maintained her hopes of a 22nd grand slam title, which would equal the haul of Steffi Graf, with a less than straightforward victory over Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.
Williams lost the opening set, in which she chalked up 24 unforced errors, before prevailing 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and will now face Holland’s Kiki Bertens in the semi-final on Friday.
Britain’s Andy Murray is also set to play his last-four tussle against Stan Wawrinka. Murray is yet to win a set against Wawrinka on clay during his career.