French Open Day 11: Thiem knocks out Djokovic, Halep pulls off comeback against Svitolina

Defending champion Novak Djokovic crashed out on day 11 at the French Open, as Austria’s Dominic Thiem pulled off an upset victory over the Serbian in straight sets.

In one of two quarter-finals postponed due to bad weather on Tuesday, sixth seed Thiem scored his first every victory over Djokovic with a convincing 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-0 win over the second seed to reach his second grand slam semi-final.

Dominic Thiem secured a first ever win over Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals
image: rte.ie

Thiem recovered from falling to an early 4-2 deficit in a 73 minute first set, as two double faults from the 2016 French Open winner allowed the Austrian to break back, before three terrible backhands from the second seed handed Thiem the tie-break.

Thiem took a 3-0 lead in the second set which helped him race into a two-set lead, as Djokovic was unable to cope with the dominant forehand of his 23-year-old opponent, who hit 38 winners in total during his shock win.

Djokovic looked a shadow of himself as Thiem then raced away with it in the third set winning all six games for the bagel, making it the first time the Serbian lost a set to love since the 2005 French Open.

Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, as the Spaniard moved a step closer to a first French Open title since 2014 after compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta retired through injury in their delayed quarter-final clash.

The 14-time grand slam champion had taken a 6-2 2-0 lead over his fellow Spaniard, who decided he could not continue after receiving lengthy treatment on an abdominal injury at the end of the first set.

Nadal broke the world number 21 four times in clinching the first set and Carreno Busta lasted just two games of the second set before retiring, as Nadal extended his incredible French Open record to 77 wins and just two losses.

World number one Andy Murray had to dig deep to keep his hopes of a first French Open title alive, as he battled from a set down to reach the final four with victory over Kei Nishikori.

Japan’s Niskikori broke the Scotsman twice to race into a one-set lead, but Murray upped his game in the second to level the match with the eighth seed double faulting in the fifth game, before misjudging a ball that landed well inside the baseline to fall 5-1 behind.

Nishikori twice fell a break behind with poor service games in the third set but he broke back each time to force the set into a tie-break, in which the Japanese fell apart as Murray reeled off all seven points.

Last year’s runner-up Murray recovered an early break of serve in the fourth set, as he went on to win the last six games to help him to a 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-0) 6-1 victory to move to two wins away from a fourth grand slam title.

It was all too easy for 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, as he recorded an emphatic straight sets win over Croatia’s Marin Cilic to set up a semi-final meeting with Murray for the second year running.

The Swiss man has still yet to drop a set in Paris as he breezed his 28-year-old opponent aside 6-3 6-3 6-1 in straight sets in just an hour and 40 minutes.

After having no break points in the first, Cilic recovered from an early break in the second to return the set on serve by forcing Wawrinka into a forehand error, but the Swiss man hit back straight away breaking to love to help him to a 2-0 lead.

Wawrinka crashed to the court on match point in the third set when trying to reach a volley, but the three-time grand slam winner got his breath back to serve out the match with an ace against the seventh seed.

In women’s action, third seed Simona Halep pulled off a stunning comeback to seal her place in the semi-finals of the French Open with a hard-fought victory over Elina Svotilina.

The third seed was a set down and trailing 5-1 in the second set when she managed to dig deep to save match point, before roaring back to clinch a 3-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-0 comeback victory against the Italian Open winner.

Simona Halep last reached the French Open final three years ago
image: bbc.com

The fifth seed got off to a flyer taking a 5-0 lead against Halep to help her race into a one-set lead and an early break in the second helped build up a 5-1 lead in the second, before the Romanian produced an incredible fight back.

Halep won five games in a row but missed the chance to wrap up the set spurning four set points at 5-6, before she managed to force a decider after winning the tie-break with a netcord winner.

Svitolina looked a broken woman at this point as she was broken three times in the third set to help Halep race into a 5-0 lead, before sealing her place in the semi-finals with an ace after the Ukrainian sent a backhand long.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova set up a semi-final clash with the tournament favourite, after she ended hopes of a French winner for the first time since 1990 at Roland Garros with victory over Caroline Garcia.

A spirited Garcia saved set point in the first set as she managed to force the former US Open finalist into a tie break, but Pliskova managed hold off a comeback by the Frenchwoman by clinching the first set.

Pliskova proved too strong for her 23-year-old opponent as she broke again when Garcia was serving to stay in the match at 4-5, as a brilliant lob helped her seal a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory to keep hopes of a first grand slam title alive.

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