For Novak Djokovic, there were no songs on stadium court at the Shanghai Masters on Saturday. Just a smashed racket, torn shirt, and a lot of frustration.
The top-ranked Serb struggled to control his errors — and his emotions — and was upset in the semifinals by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-4, 6-4.
Andy Murray had his own anger issues in the other semifinal against Gilles Simon, but the second-seeded Scot regained his composure and pulled out a 6-4, 6-3 victory to advance to his 10th final of the year.
Djokovic, a three-time champion in Shanghai, was noticeably off his game for the second straight day after laboring to victory over German qualifier Mischa Zverev in the quarterfinals. He sprayed his groundstrokes and missed routine volleys, finishing with 29 unforced errors. He was also a miserable two of nine on break-point chances.
Against Zverev, Djokovic tried to stay calm by shrugging off errors and even humming a song to keep his anger from boiling over.
This new zen attitude was nowhere to be seen on Saturday, however.
Djokovic smashed his racket into bits after losing the first set — later grabbing a towel from a ballgirl to sweep up the pieces himself — and ripped his shirt open in anger during another point.
He also argued repeatedly with the chair umpire Carlos Bernardes over line calls and a time violation he received for changing his ripped shirt.
“(Bernardes) was the star of the show,” Djokovic said afterward. “That’s what he wanted to be today.”
Djokovic has talked repeatedly this week about trying to lessen the pressure he feels on court and rediscover his inner joy for the game.
“This is one of those days,” Djokovic said. “Things go in an opposite direction than you want them, but again, it’s a lesson. Every day is a lesson.”
It’s been a season full of them for a player not accustomed to struggling: A stunning loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon, an early exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to Juan Martin del Potro, a demoralizing defeat in the U.S. Open final to Stan Wawrinka.
There’ve also been injuries to his elbow and wrist, yet another unfamiliar issue for the normally healthy Djokovic.
“I had to experience sooner or later this,” he said. “I knew I could not go on playing the highest level for so many years all the time, but it’s good to experience this so I can hopefully get better in the period to come.”
Wozniacki to play Mladenovic in Hong Kong final
Caroline Wozniacki reached her second final in the past month, defeating Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-4, on Saturday to advance to the title match at the Hong Kong Open.
Wozniacki’s late-season resurgence has seen her reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open, win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, and now reach the Hong Kong final.
The former No. 1 had a 13-14 record for the season before the U.S. Open; she’s 14-3 since then.
She’ll play Kristina Mladenovic in the final after the Frenchwoman defeated eighth-seeded Daria Gavrilova of Australia, 7-5, 6-3. Mladenovic is aiming for her first title. She’s 0-2 in career finals.
Cibulkova advances to sixth final of season
Dominika Cibulkova reached her sixth final of the season by defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, 6-4, 6-3, at the Generali Ladies in Linz, Austria.
The 10th-ranked Slovak will play Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in Sunday’s final.
Golubic advanced after third-seeded Madison Keys pulled out of the event hours before their semifinal. Tournament organizers said the seventh-ranked American had a cold.
On Friday, the 62nd-ranked Golubic won her quarterfinal against top-seeded Garbine Muguruza after the French Open champion sprained her left ankle and retired at 4-4 in the final set.
Tianjin semifinals rained out
Peng Shuai and Danka Kovinic were level at one set apiece in the semifinals of the Tianjin Open in China on Saturday when play was suspended for the rest of the day because of rain.
The match was scheduled to be completed on Sunday with the score at 3-3 in the third set. Peng won the opening set 6-3, and Kovinic captured the second 7-5. Second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova will face Alison Riske in the second semifinal. The final was scheduled for later Sunday.