Novak Djokovic‘s bid for a fourth straight Grand Slam title — to achieve the feat for the second time in his career — ended in the French Open semifinals.
Dominic Thiem derailed Djokovic, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, in a match that started Friday and finished Saturday and was delayed four times overall. Thiem, the No. 4 seed from Austria, plays No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the French Open final a second straight year (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app).
“He is the favorite, of course,” Thiem said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, to let everything out on the court again. We’ll see.”
Thiem blew two match points on his serve before breaking Djokovic three games later for the win.
The top-ranked Djokovic lost at a Slam for the first time since little-known Italian Marco Cecchinato served the upset in the 2018 French Open quarterfinals.
After that, Djokovic picked himself up from being ranked outside the top 20 and reeled off his first Slam titles since 2016: Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open to run his total to 15, just two behind Nadal and five behind Roger Federer.
But now it’s Thiem who has the great opportunity, the chance to end Nadal’s pursuit of a 12th French Open title. It didn’t go so well last year, when Thiem won nine games total and was swept by the Spaniard in the final.
Thiem is one of two men to make at least four semifinals at one Grand Slam but never win any Grand Slam titles (Tim Henman, Wimbledon).
But this year, Thiem beat Djokovic, Nadal (on clay!) and Federer (twice, including from a set down in the Indian Wells final for his biggest career title). He may be the best player yet to win a major, and, at 25, his time may be now.
“He showed why he’s one of the best players in the world,” on Saturday, Djokovic said.
It would be a monumental run, taking out the best player of the moment and the greatest French Open champion of all time. Nobody has beaten Djokovic and Nadal in back-to-back matches (let alone back-to-back days) at a Slam. Nadal also benefits from a full day’s rest more than Thiem.
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