MONACO — Novak Djokovic dropped serve four times before beating Robin Haase 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Friday, saying he had thought about pulling out of the event following his grandfather’s death.
Playing the day after his grandfather died, the top-ranked Djokovic looked distracted at times against Haase.
He missed a first chance to serve out for the match at 5-1 before breaking the unseeded Dutchman for the seventh time to seal victory.
The win kept Djokovic on course for a final against seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, who overcame a slight blip in the first set before beating Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5, 6-4 for his 40th consecutive win at Monte Carlo.
Fourth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was upset 7-5, 6-4 by ninth-seeded Gilles Simon in an all-French match.
Djokovic had considered withdrawing before his third-round match on Thursday, which came only a few hours after he’d received the bad news.
“Yeah, I did. But I’m a professional and life goes on,” he said. “I know that I cannot change anything now. Obviously, it’s what life gives you and takes (from) you. It’s a normal circle of life. I was very close to him, so it was a big loss for me.”
Because of his tennis commitments, Djokovic will be unable to make the funeral back home in Serbia.
“No, it’s not possible. It’s a very sensitive thing to talk about really,” he said. “Every religion has a different way of proceeding, the funerals, life itself.”
Djokovic lost a total of 16 points on his usually rock-solid first serve, and his play was sometimes erratic.
“It’s tough to be able to play tennis after the way I felt and the way I still feel,” Djokovic said. “I remember him as a great man, and I know he’s been supporting me and still from the heavens now.”
Djokovic next plays sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who took advantage of a wayward performance from Andy Murray to win 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3.