Paris: Novak Djokovic reached his ninth Roland Garros semifinal Thursday, sweeping past Alexander Zverev to keep his bid to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice firmly on track.
Top seed and World No.1 Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and will face Friday Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem in what will be his 35th Grand Slam semifinal. Thiem reached the last four stage for a fourth successive year at the Roland Garros with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.
“It was a big challenge for me today (Thursday) but I was hitting the ball more cleanly,” said 32-year-old Djokovic. “It’s a great joy to be in the semifinals again.”
The problem for Djokovic now in his pursuit of a second title in Paris and 16th major is the weather. Heavy rain is forecast to hit the French capital again Friday after Wednesday’s washout.
“I just have to keep my concentration and stay in the moment. I hope to continue like this,” said the Serb.
Friday’s other semifinal will see Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer resume their great rivalry, meaning this is the first time the top four seeds have all reached the last four at a Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open.
The last time Djokovic made the semifinals here was 2016 when he went on to win the title. He has a 6-2 career lead over Thiem and beat the Austrian in the Rome semi-finals in the run-up to Paris.
Fifth seed Zverev, bidding to reach a maiden Slam semifinal made the stronger start. The 22-year-old had breakpoints in the third and fifth games of the opening set and finally broke through for a 5-4 lead. But Djokovic levelled immediately before claiming the set on a Zverev double fault.
Djokovic dominated the second set as breaks in the second and eighth games were enough to tighten his grip. Djokovic saved two more breakpoints in the opening game of the third set and again made the German pay with a break for 4-2. Zverev’s 40th and last unforced error proved to be the final point of the one-sided quarterfinal.
Thiem was utterly dominant on Court Suzanne Lenglen, hammering 29 winners, as his erratic opponent contrived to tally 37 unforced errors and only 17 winners.
“The key was to control the points. I’ll be ready to maybe come back here tomorrow (Friday). This is one of my favourite courts in the world,” said the 25-year-old, who is chasing a maiden Grand Slam title.