Dominic Thiem was a comfortable winner as Alexander Zverev’s exertions finally caught up with him in their much-anticipated French Open quarterfinal.
Thiem reached his third successive semifinal at Roland Garros with a 6-4 6-2 6-1 victory in one hour and 50 minutes.
He goes on to face unseeded Italian Marco Ceccinato, a shock winner over former champion Novak Djokovic.
Second seed Zverev must regroup and rehabilitate after a gruelling campaign in Paris that brought him to the brink of retirement during Tuesday’s quarterfinal.
The German required on-court treatment after pulling a muscle in the first set and was unable to mount any real challenge to the in-form Thiem.
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“How close was I to pulling out? I thought about it. I definitely thought about it,” said Zverev, who had played three five-set matches in a row to reach the last eight.
“But, you know, I didn’t want to pull out for the first time of my career in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I knew I wasn’t going to win the match. There was no way for me. I mean, I could barely move. I couldn’t serve. I couldn’t really do anything.”
The 21-year-old leaves Paris having finally gone further than the fourth round at a Grand Slam, but he spent a punishing 12 hours on court to get there.
He will have an MRI scan to determine the nature of his injury, which he said he felt as early as the fourth game.
“I actually felt good today,” Zverev added.
“Waking up in the morning, I actually felt ‘OK I can play five sets again.’ I thought it was going to be a tough, physical match, but unfortunately my body didn’t hold up.”
Thiem now has a golden opportunity to progress from a Grand Slam semifinal at the third attempt.
“I’m a better player in general now, for sure,” said the Austrian seventh seed.
“I think this year I’m physically and mentally fresher than I have been the last two years.
“I know how to handle a Grand Slam now, how to get that deep in such a tournament, and I think everything gets better with experience.”
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