Novak Djokovic cruised in to the French Open semifinal on Thursday but was close to being kicked out of the tournament while Serena Williams had to claw her way back in to the tournament after dropping the first set.
The Serbian set up his 30th Grand Slam semifinal - and 8th successive semi in this tournament - against Austrian Dominic Thiem with a straightforward 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win over seventh seed Tomas Berdych. Djokovic is a three-time French Open runner-up and is seeking a maiden Roland Garros crown to complete the career Grand Slam.
But the 29-year-old was nearly forced out of the competition in the second game of the third set. Frustrated at missing a break point, Djokovic went to smash his racquet into the ground but it slipped out of his grasp before it flew into the backwall on Philippe Chatrier Court.
Had it hit the nearby line judge, who was forced to take evasive action, Djokovic would have been disqualified.
"I was lucky there," admitted Djokovic. "I apologised to the people that have been in this particular situation with me and that could have been hurt by my racquet.
"But, you know, it was never the intention. It was just some unfortunate bounce, but fortunate ending of that scenario. That's all I can say."
Again, the game was played out in the damp conditions that have plagued the tournament. At one point, Berdych told the tournament referee that the weather had made the match a "one big circus."
Elsewhere, 22-year-old Thiem defeated Belgium's David Goffin 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-1 to make the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
"The first two sets were really good tennis. For both of us it was not easy with the conditions, but I am really happy right now," said Thiem.
Thiem will play Djokovic in the semifinal on Friday. The winner will play either second-seed Andy Murray or third seed Stan Wawrinka, who also play on Friday.
Serena struggles through
The women's semifinals were also decided on thursday. World number one Serena Williams struggled early on before chargin back to record a 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory over unseeded Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.
The American survived two break points at 4-4 in the second set and was releived to go through.
"I didn't think I was going to win that in the second set," she said courtside after the match. "I did and I'm really excited."
Australian Sam Stosur, who won the US Open in 2011, will play Garbine Muguruza. both semifinals will be on Friday, with the women's final on Saturday and the men's on Sunday.