Thiem stuns Djokovic

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Updated at 12:44am on June 08, 2017

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Austria’s Dominic Thiem returns the ball to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during their French Open men’s singles quarter-final match at the Roland Garros in Paris on Wednesday. — AFP photo

Dominic Thiem demolished defending champion Novak Djokovic in a stunning French Open upset on Wednesday, setting up a semi-final duel against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.
Austrian sixth seed Thiem sent the world number two crashing to his earliest loss in Paris in seven years with a memorable 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-0 triumph.
It also piled the pressure back onto the 12-time Grand Slam winner to prove that he is still a contender at the majors following a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January.
‘All the top players go through this. I will get through it and learn the lessons and figure out how to get out of it,’ said 30-year-old Djokovic.
‘It’s a big challenge but I am up for it.’
The defeat was Djokovic’s first straight-sets loss at a major in four years and comes just 12 months after he completed the career Grand Slam in Paris.
He then also held all four majors.
Wednesday saw him suffer a first 6-0 ‘bagel’ at a Slam since the 2005 US Open while the defeat will also see him slip out of the world’s top two for the first time in six years.
‘It’s a dream to beat Novak for the first time and reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros again,’ said Thiem, who was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets in the semi-finals in Paris in 2016.
It was Thiem’s first win over the Serb in six meetings.
Thiem trails Nadal 4-2 in career meetings but remains the only man to beat the Spaniard on clay this year after winning in the Rome quarter-finals.
Djokovic, who teamed up with Andre Agassi ahead of the tournament, squandered two set points in the 10th game of the opener on Wednesday and things got steadily worse.
Thiem pounced on his lifeline, taking the set after 73 minutes when the Serb dumped a backhand in the net.
By that stage, Nadal was already back in the locker room, safely into the semi-finals after his opponent Pablo Carreno Busta had retired with injury over on Philippe Chatrier.
Meanwhile, Simona Halep produced an incredible escape act to reach the French Open semi-finals while Karolina Pliskova ended the run of the lone remaining home hope Caroline Garcia.
Romanian third seed Halep saved a match point as she trailed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 5-1 before launching a sensational comeback to stun the Ukrainian in three sets.
Fifth seed Svitolina twice served for the match at 5-2 and 5-4 in the second set and then had match point at 6/5 in the tie-break.
But she failed to put away Halep and the 2014 Roland Garros runner-up powered through the decider in just 20 minutes to complete a remarkable 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-0 victory.
Svitolina, 22, had looked well-set to become the first Ukrainian woman to make a Grand Slam semi-final.
She allowed Halep just four winners in the first set and coasted to within sight of the last four, but the Romanian ran away with 12 of the last 13 games to avenge her loss in the Rome final.