Monday 3 August, 2020

Terrific Thiem ends Djokovic's hopes of holding all four majors

Dominic Thiem celebrates during his win over Novak Djokovic.

Dominic Thiem celebrates during his win over Novak Djokovic.

Dominic Thiem ended Novak Djokovic's hopes of holding all four majors simultaneously for the second time in his career with a hugely impressive 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 victory in their French Open semi-final on Saturday.

World number one Djokovic was aiming to join Rod Laver as the only man in history to possess all four slams on two occasions, but he came unstuck against the intelligent Thiem in a match controversially held over from Friday due to bad weather. Thiem will now meet Rafael Nadal on Sunday in a repeat of last year's final.

The top seed was in a sullen mood on Friday and, despite getting a reprieve with play suspended after Thiem broke to lead 3-1 in the third set, he maintained that demeanour on another windy day on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

World number four Thiem quickly surrendered his overnight advantage but he clinched the set with a break of serve, Djokovic taking his frustrations out on chair umpire Jaume Campistol.

A double fault essentially gifted Djokovic the fourth set but Thiem, who achieved great success by drawing his opponent forward, surged ahead in the fifth, though his progress was checked by a missed chance to earn a second break just before rain forced the players off for an hour.

The 2016 champion made a strong start when the action got back under way and saved a pair of match points to get back on serve, before the Austrian sealed the deal at the third attempt to hand Djokovic his first last-four defeat at a major since the 2014 US Open.

Thiem saved break point in the first game of the day with a stunning forehand winner to end a rally at 23 shots, before celebrating vigorously after whipping a brilliant forehand down the line to close out.

Djokovic restored parity and Thiem staved off another pair of break points – the first with a drop shot that clipped the net and fell on Djokovic's side at the end of another great rally – before a miss from the Serbian gave him a 5-4 lead.

The fourth seed saw three set points come and go before some terrific defence and a backhand pass earned him another, which was converted when Djokovic found the net.

Fifteen-time major champion Djokovic received a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and was frustrated with how early umpire Campistol was calling the score and thus starting the serve clock, but the fourth set moved in his favour following a wide backhand from Thiem.

The Austrian was back on level terms when a backhand looped off the net cord and lobbed Djokovic, who won the next eight points to restore his advantage at 4-2.

Djokovic sent a drop shot into the net as he gave up his serve again, but a double fault from Thiem offered him a chance to serve out the set and he took it.

Last year's runner-up produced a stunning winner from the acutest of angles before failing to convert a break point in game two of the fifth, though Djokovic dropped his next service game with an error at the net.

An unfortunate bounce saw Thiem's lob move out of Djokovic's reach as the fourth seed earned another shot at breaking, but the Serbian responded emphatically before the heavens opened and the players left the court.

Djokovic managed to get back on serve when Thiem sent a lob long after the restart, but he was on the edge after a trio of unforced errors and a double fault.

Thiem failed to take a pair of match points as he displayed nerves behind his serve in game nine. However, another three mistakes from Djokovic preceded a stunning forehand winner from Thiem to wrap things up.

Dominic Thiem [4] bt Novak Djokovic [1] 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5

Thiem - 52/60
Djokovic - 39/53

Thiem - 4/4
Djokovic - 6/4

Thiem - 9/22
Djokovic - 7/12

Thiem - 69
Djokovic - 75

Thiem - 65/58
Djokovic - 62/47

Thiem - 167
Djokovic - 159

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: