World number one Andy Murray is through to the semifinals after beating Kei Nishikori. But the story of the day came as Austria’s Dominic Thiem stunned defending champion Novak Djokovic with a straight sets win.Dominic Thiem swept aside defending champion Novak Djokovic in a stunning French Open upset on Wednesday, setting up a semifinal clash against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Austrian sixth seed Thiem sent the world number two crashing to his earliest loss in Paris in seven years with a memorable 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-0 triumph.
It also piled the pressure back onto the 12-time Grand Slam winner to prove that he is still a contender at the majors following a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January.
“All the top players go through this. I will get through it, learn the lessons and figure out how to get out of it,” said 30-year-old Djokovic. “It’s a big challenge but I am up for it.”
The defeat was Djokovic’s first straight-sets loss at a major in four years and comes just 12 months after he completed the career Grand Slam in Paris.
Wednesday saw him suffer a first 6-0 ‘bagel’ at a Slam since the 2005 US Open while the defeat will also see him slip out of the world’s top two for the first time in six years.
“It’s a dream to beat Novak for the first time and reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros again,” said Thiem, who was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets in the semifinals in Paris in 2016. It was Thiem’s first win over the Serb in six meetings.
“It was tricky today, it was windy and cold. It was important to move well and hit clean.”
Thiem trails Nadal 4-2 in career meetings but remains the only man to beat the Spaniard on clay this year after winning in the Rome quarter-finals.
“It’s always difficult the deeper you go in the draw – it won’t be any easier on Friday.”
Nadal though after Busta retires
Rafael Nadal reached the last four of the tournament after his opponent, compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, was forced to retire early in the second set.
Nadal, bidding for a 10th title at Roland Garros, was leading 6-2 2-0 when Carreno Busta decided he could not continue after receiving lengthy treatment for a left abdominal muscle injury at the end of the first set.
The 31-year-old Nadal has spent only eight hours on court, dropping 22 games in the process, to reach his record-extending 10th semi-final at the French Open.
Murray and Wawrinka ease through
World number one Andy Murray recovered from an early scare to cruise through to the semifinals. Japanese number eight seed Kei Nishikori took the first set in comfortable fashion, winning 6-2 to put Murray under immediate pressure. But the Scot responded in style to take the second set 6-1.
After a crushing 7-0 victory in a third-set tiebreak, Murray never looked in any danger. The fourth set turned into a formality, and Murray cruised home to take the match 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-1.
His opponent in the semifinals will be US Open champion Stan Wawrinka. The 2015 winner reached his third major semifinal in a row by eliminating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. The match will see a repeat of last year’s semifinal, which ended in victory for Andy Murray.
Halep back from the brink
Simona Halep made a dramatic recovery from a set and 5-1 down to beat Eilina Svitolina 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 for a place in the French Open semifinals on Wednesday.
The victory counted as one of the best wins of the Romanian’s career, three months after her Australian coach Darren Cahill temporarily dropped her due to her ‘negative attitude.’
Halep will face second seed Karolina Pliskova in Thursday’s semifinal. Pliskova booked her spot in the last four with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 defeat of France’s Caroline Garcia.
If Halep wins the tournament, she will rise to the top of the rankings for the first time.
mds/mf (AFP, Reuters)