Djokovic, Thiem and Serena, Bertens to meet in French Open semifinals
A recap of the action of the quarterfinals on Thursday at the French Open in Paris, including results, tweets, hot shots, photos and more.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic moved one step closer to a French Open title on Thursday, defeating No, 7-seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. Berdych’s loss marked the 25th-straight set he’s dropped against the ATP’s top five. After the match, Berdych discussed his frustration with the rain stoppage on Philippe Chatrier.
“We were playing two-and-a-half sets in the light rain,” Berdych said. “Then all of a sudden that the decision is like that when there is nothing really happening. You have to just go for the break, take all the stuff, go in, then go out again in few minutes. Really, I mean, that was one of the worst calls that I ever had on the court.
“The conditions are tough. They are not easy to play. Probably that's when they are, you know, pushed under pressure that they are making decisions like that.”
After the match, Djokovic—who advanced to his 30th Grand Slam semifinal, 8th overall and 6th-straight at Roland Garros—was already thinking ahead to his next match against No. 13-seed Dominic Thiem, who defeated No. 12-seed David Goffin 4–6, 7–6(7), 6–4, 6–1 on Thursday.
“The way that the schedule has been going on in the second week is not much time to really, you know, reflect on what you have done,” Djokovic said. “Getting into semifinals, of course I'm very pleased to be in semifinals of another Grand Slam. But because the fact that I have to play every day, my focus right away goes for recovery and next match. I don't have much time, really.”
Thiem booked a spot in his first Grand Slam semifinal with his win over Goffin on Thursday, but the young Austrian got off to a shaky start and almost went down two sets to love in a crucial tiebreak. Goffin had set point at 6-5 but Thiem fought back to level the match at one-all, and he raised his level after that.
"Honestly in the whole second set I didn't really think that I'm going to win this match, because, yeah, he was just on top of me. He was the better player the first two sets maybe, or until the tiebreak," Thiem said after the match. "I didn't know what to do because he was returning well. He didn't do any mistakes. Then I think the tiebreak was one of the highest level I was ever playing. Then things kind of turned around."
Djokovic has won seven of his last eight Grand Slam semifinals, and five titles, but he’ll have to go through an in-form Thiem to continue his streak. He holds a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over the 22-year-old, both on hard courts. Djokovic and Thiem are also the two players with the most wins on the ATP Tour this year: Djokovic, 42 and Thiem, 41.
"It's gonna be unbelievably tough," Thiem said of Friday's semifinal against Djokovic. "I think he's a little bit on a different level than all the other players, but still I'm in good shape and the match starts at 0-0. Everything I can do is give all I have, give my best, and then we will see what happens."
In the other men's semifinal match on Friday, defending champion Stan Wawrinka will face No. 2-seed Andy Murray.
• Defending champion Serena Williams pulls out a comeback win in the quarterfinals, defeating Yulia Putintseva 5–7, 6–4, 6–1 to advance her third semifinals in four years at Roland Garros.
After dropping the opening set to the world No. 60, Serena prevailed in a close second set and breezed through the decider to close out the match. After hitting 24 unforced errors in the first set, Serena improved her play in the second set, reducing her errors and holding on after Putintseva rallied from 4–1 down to even the set at four games apiece.
In Friday’s semifinal, Serena will take on the red-hot Kiki Bertens, who continued her run in Paris with a 7–5, 6–2 win over No. 8-seed Timea Bacsinszky. After Thursday’s win, Bertens has now taken out No. 3-seed Angelique Kerber, No. 29-seed Daria Kasatkina and No. 15-seed Madison Keys to advance to her first Grand Slam semifinal. Bertens is also riding a 12-match win streak after winning the title in Nürnberg last week.
"Mentally I feel pretty good. But physically, yeah, it was tough today out there," Bertens said after the match. "I think I had some problems with my calf today, so especially in the second set it was really hard to push off with the serve....I'm just gonna prepare again for tomorrow, do everything what I can with the physios, and we will see how it is tomorrow."
World No. 58 Kiki Bertens will be the third lowest-ranked opponent Serena has faced in 31 Grand Slam semifinals.
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Serena Williams vs. Yulia Putintseva is a match-up of power vs. consistency.
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