Dominic Thiem celebrates his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic. Picture: Getty Images
Dominic Thiem celebrates his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic. Picture: Getty Images

Thiem beats Djokovic in classic semi

Dominic Thiem has claimed a weather-interrupted Roland Garros classic over Novak Djokovic, earning another French Open final tilt at Rafael Nadal.

The Austrian fourth seed was too solid in a match spread over two days, prevailing 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 in four hours, 13 mins to reach his second straight French decider.

Defeat ended Djokovic's 19-match winning streak at the slams, a sequence stretching back to last season's quarter-finals here.

And it terminated the Serb's ambitions of holding all four majors simultaneously.

In a contest shaped by high winds, poor light and rain interruptions, Thiem held his nerve best to succeed - but only just.

With history on the line as he strove to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold the four slams, Djokovic repeatedly lost composure as he slid to defeat.

But he refused to surrender, saving two match points late in the fifth, as he bickereed with officials at regular intervals.

Given a warning for taking too much time, Djokovic barked at umpire Jaume Campistol

"You made yourself a name. You made yourself recognisable now. You get all the credit," he said.

"Have you ever played tennis? So you know how it is in this situation at 5-6, long point, crowd still clapping?"

The match was contentiously suspended at 3-1 in the third set on Friday night, with Thiem in the throes of building a telling lead.

Within minutes of the players leaving court, Djokovic was spotted climbing into a tournament van and leaving the site.

Spectators were enraged as brilliant sunshine bathed the courts for at least 90 minutes after the decision to call off play.

The move drew even more criticism of tournament officials, already under fire for the controversial placement of both women's semi-finals on outside courts instead of Court Philippe-Chatrier, the premier venue.

When play resumed, Djokovic was clearly in no mood to dally.

The Serb broke serve but then lost his serve, the set - and his temper.

Djokovic recovered to lead the fourth set 2-1 with a break but was undone by a wicked net-cord winner from Thiem to drop serve.

Ahead 4-2, the world No 1 again blundered with an errant dropshot as Thiem levelled at 4-all.

In control, Thiem suddenly cracked with a lame double fault for 5-6, gifting the set to Djokovic.


Dominic Thiem reaches for a backhand. Picture: Getty Images
Dominic Thiem reaches for a backhand. Picture: Getty Images

But when the stakes were highest, Thiem was too solid as Djokovic erred with a backhand volley to trail 1-4 before rain stopped play.

Staring down the barrel, he saved two break points before breaking Thiem's delivery to get back on terms - only to fall behind 3-5 with a botched forehand.

Soon after he saved two match points and seemed to have the contest in his grasp until serving at 5-6, opening the door to Thiem with unforced errors.

Thiem finally seized the opportunity with a monster forehand winner.

Roger Federer, who lost to Nadal in the semis, warned Thiem to expect the worst against the Spanish colossus.

"He (Nadal) barely misses any," Federer said.



Novak Djokovic hits a return to Dominic Thiem. Picture: AP
Novak Djokovic hits a return to Dominic Thiem. Picture: AP

"And then when he's in the rally, he plays with great spin on the forehand, great sort of control on the backhand side.

"So it's just really hard to find holes.

"He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay.

"There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him.

"I don't even know who I need to go search for to go practise with somebody who plays like him.

"I was thinking that during the match. It's just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.

"It's just quite interesting."

Nadal leads Thiem 4-2 in the head-to-head tally.