Dominic Thiem defeats Novak Djokovic to reach French Open final
Thiem to face defending champion Rafael Nadal in repeat of last year's final
Last Updated: 08/06/19 7:03pm
Novak Djokovic saw his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time in his career end in an enthralling five-set defeat against Dominic Thiem in the French Open semi-finals.
The world No 1, who had won his past 26 Grand Slam matches, was bidding to emulate Rod Laver in the history books but was beaten 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 in a rain-interrupted encounter which lasted four hours and 19 minutes and was played over two days.
Thiem, who becomes the first Austrian to reach multiple Grand Slam finals, sealed victory on his third match point and will face 11-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final, a repeat of last year's Roland Garros showpiece.
"It was an amazing match, my first five-set match at Roland Garros. It was good for a start," Thiem said.
"I'm in the semi-finals with the three best players of all time. It's always so hard to beat one of them."
The fourth seed led by a break in the third set on resumption, after the first two had been shared, but after saving a break point on his way to a battling opening hold he was broken two games later.
Djokovic, who had been short of solutions a day earlier, looked far more assured in the calmer conditions, if yet still breezy, but he was left to rue two missed break points in the ninth game.
Thiem eventually won the third set with a decisive break of serve after a six-deuce, 11-minute game, in which Djokovic was given a warning for a time violation, leading to the world No 1 voicing his discontent to the chair umpire about how quickly the score was being called.
Both players were struggling to hold their serve into the wind and there were three successive breaks of serve as Djokovic gained the initiative before the 25-year-old Austrian was broken in the 11th game of the set to take the match into a decider.
Djokovic, who had not lost in a Grand Slam semi-final since the 2014 US Open, failed to convert a break point in the third game of the fifth set as he shovelled a forehand long and was then broken in the very next game.
After Thiem consolidated the break there was a third suspension for rain, with Djokovic trailing 4-1 and at deuce, after he had saved a break point to avoid falling a double break behind.
The dramatic nature of the encounter continued immediately after the interruption when the chair umpire called a Thiem shot as in, despite television pictures indicating the ball had landed long. But Djokovic saved the break point and went on to avoid falling a double break down.
Djokovic quickly got back on serve although he then lost four successive points to be broken straight back, but he then saved two match points, when Thiem served for the match at 5-3.
The top seed levelled up at 5-5 but, when serving into the wind, faltered once again and Thiem sealed victory with a forehand winner to ensure he will have another chance at a maiden Grand Slam title on Sunday.
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