No. 1 Andy Murray advanced to a semifinal against No. 3 and former Roland Garros champ Stan Wawrinka, and Rafael and Dominic Thiem advanced into a second blockbuster semifinal, but the story of the French Open on Wednesday was defending champion Novak Djokovic’s limp-johnson exit from Paris.
Facing a player he had destroyed in their previous meeting on clay last month, the former No. 1 Djokovic was routed 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-0 by the 23-year-old Thiem.
“All and all, I think it was decided in the first set,” Djokovic said after the match. “He deserved to win. He was definitely the better player on court today.”
The Serb hit only 18 winners to 35 unforced errors. Thiem saved two set points in the first set, and Djokovic’s negative body language become more and more apparent as the match wore on.
Three weeks ago in Rome, Djokovic manhandled an admittedly-tired Thiem 6-1, 6-0. This time it was the Austrian’s turn to turn-up a beat-down, dominating on his serve and allowing Djokovic few looks on his usually-dominant return of serve.
Thiem will next face Nadal after the former No. 1 advanced past Spanish pal Pablo Carreno Busta. The first-time Slam quarterfinalist retired at 6-2, 2-0 with a left abdominal muscle injury.
“Obviously, was not the perfect way for the match to end and especially against a good friend, no?” Nadal said afterwards. “Sorry for him. He was playing great.”
Thiem is the only player to beat Nadal in the claycourt run-up to Paris this year.
Murray and Wawrinka booked their meeting after the Brit overcame a defensive start to defeated No. 8 seed Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(0), 6-1, and the No. 3 Wawrinka rolled past No. 7 Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
Wawrinka improved to 12-2 career against Cilic.
“I didn’t expect that score, but I was confident with my game,” Wawrinka said. “I knew he was playing good, but I was confident with what I was doing since the beginning of the tournament. I think I know how to play him.”
Murray beat Wawrinka in last year’s semis, and leads their career head-to-head 10-7.
“He was playing better than me on that court last year, but it’s a different year,” said Wawrinka. “I think he’s struggling a little bit since the beginning of the year, but he’s in the semifinal. So a champion like him, when they find a way to win matches, they play better and better. I expect him to play his best tennis, so it can only be a big challenge and hopefully a good match.”
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