Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem both notched straight-sets victories in their respective quarterfinal matches at the French Open on Thursday, setting up a semifinal clash between the top-ranked and fourth-ranked players in the world.
Djokovic, owner of the last three Grand Slams on the ATP Tour, moved within two wins of winning the fourth straight as he defeated fifth-seed Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in just a little over two hours.
“I think the longer I play, or the further I go in my career, the sense of history-making is only getting stronger. That’s one of the greatest motivations I have,” said Djokovic. “There is no better way to make history in the sport than to win Slams and play your best in the biggest events, and obviously try to stay No. 1 as long as you can. Those are, results-wise, the pinnacle achievements that you can have in our sport.”
Djokovic committed just 18 unforced errors across the three sets, and saved seven of eight break points in the process to push past Zverev.
“I could have broken him I think earlier in the first set. [I] had a lot of breakpoints,” said Zverev. “I really thought that the first set should have gone my way. And then I played three really bad games from there on. Once he’s in control, he’s very tough to beat. He’s World No. 1 for a reason.”
Thiem looked equally as dominant in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 drubbing of Russia’s Karen Khachanov. Last year’s finalist needed just one hour and 47 minutes to secure his spot in the semifinals, and a matchup with Djokovic.
“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.”
Djokovic leads the head-to-head series with Thiem 6-2.
The other semifinal at Roland Garros will see Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer square off, as the top four ranked men advanced to the semifinal stage in Paris.