French Open: Djokovic sets up Thiem semifinal

Published by PA / Tennismash

Novak Djokovic is two wins away from a second 'Note Slam'; Getty Images
Novak Djokovic remains on course to hold all four major titles as he beats Alexander Zverev to reach the French Open semifinals.

Novak Djokovic will take on Dominic Thiem for the third time in four years at the French Open after both eased through to the semifinals on Thursday.

World No.1 Djokovic progressed to the last four at Roland Garros with a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory over fifth seed Alexander Zverev, while Thiem defeated Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-4 6-2 to reach a fourth successive semifinal at Roland Garros.

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Djokovic and Thiem faced each other in the semifinals in 2016, with the Serbian winning easily, but Thiem turned the tables the following year in the quarterfinals before reaching his first Grand Slam final here last year.

Victories for the two men also means that, with Rafael Nadal taking on Roger Federer in the other semifinal on Friday, the top four seeds are all through to the last four.

Remarkably, it is the first time at a grand slam since the French Open in 2012 that Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have all made it through to the semifinals.

Djokovic has moved to within two victories of holding all four titles at the majors at the same time for the second time in his career by defeating his German opponent Zverev in two hours, nine minutes.

Despite sending a flurry of mighty serves crashing down, towering world No.5 Zverev could offer only momentary resistance to the 32-year-old top seed.

The 1.98m tall German had served for the opening set at 5-4 before Djokovic simply clicked it up a notch to steal that set 7-5 then romp through the next two 6-2 6-2.

“He was serving very well, it was a big challenge for me to find the right returning position,” Djokovic said after reaching his ninth semifinal in the French capital.

“I was 4-5 down, then I played five or six games perfectly, hitting clean balls. It was very windy but it felt good to play (after Wednesday’s washout).”

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Austrian Thiem had to battle his way through the first week in Paris but has found his best form in the last two rounds and was far too strong for 10th seed Khachanov.

Thiem was never seriously troubled as he won in one hour 47 minutes with a service winner on first match point.

“I’m now in the semifinals for the fourth time,” said Thiem.

“It’s incredibly difficult to win a Grand Slam, especially for us players who haven’t won one yet, because if everything goes quite normal, we have to beat two players with 15 or more Grand Slams.

“But I will step on the court tomorrow, try everything, of course, and give everything. I hope it’s going to be positive in the end, but the challenge is huge.

“Novak is in very good shape again, probably playing the best tennis of his life. I’m in the semifinals with maybe the three best players of all time, so everybody can see how tough the way it is for me.”

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