Paris | Thiem ousts a tetchy Djokovic
Novak Djokovic left Roland Garros in a mood mirroring the dark clouds which he no doubt believed had contributed to his defeat at this year’s French Open. The Serbian world number one must have felt that not only the elements, but the officials and to some extent the crowd were ranged against him, as well as a determined Austrian opponent on the other side of the net.
It was an amazing match. It was my first five-set match at Roland Garros so it was a good one to have, Dominic Thiem
But in some ways it wasn’t surprising as he allowed the circumstances to affect him, unlike Dominic Thiem who only showed frustration when he made what he thought were stupid errors.
So it was a very disgruntled Djokovic who departed from Paris on completion of the dramatic albeit fragmented semi-final match which was played over two days, punctuated by weather delays. There was even one on the Saturday when rain delayed proceedings by some 60-minutes.
Thiem emerged a very satisfied 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 victor following four-hours and 13-minutes of frenetic play, to reach the final for a second consecutive year where he will again have to face the ‘King of Clay’ if he is to win his first grand slam title. Last year he was beaten in straight sets.
The fourth seeded Thiem’s win also ended Djokovic’s 26-match run in majors that began last year at Wimbledon, and dashed his hopes of holding all the four major trophies at the same time, for the second time in his career.
“When you’re playing in hurricane kind of conditions, it’s hard to perform your best,” an angry Djokovic exclaimed.
“It’s really just kind of surviving in these kind of conditions and trying to hold your serve and play one ball more than your opponent in the court.
“That’s what it felt like playing yesterday (Friday). I don’t want to point out some reasons or find excuses for this loss. I mean, he took it, he won it, and well done to him.”
As regards the conditions the world number one added: “One of the worst conditions I have ever been part of. That’s all I can tell you.
“When the supervisor came on the court, he said as long as there are no flying objects coming on to the court, we’re good. I didn’t know that an umbrella is not a flying object, which flew in in the first game of the match, but that’s their decision.
“I guess they know tennis better.”
Meanwhile Thiem was happy at playing his fourth match in as many days on Sunday while Rafa Nadal has had plenty of time to relax before the final following his straight sets defeat of Roger Federer.
“I think it’s fine. I mean, it’s not the first time that that happens in tennis, and it’s not going to be the last time. That’s our sport,” the Austrian said.
Thiem, who is bidding to become his nation’s second French Open men’s champion following Thomas Muster’s win in 1995, said he had no problems stopping for the night on Friday.
“I was not unhappy yesterday, because I went to the locker room with 3-1 lead in the third set. The conditions were very, very tough yesterday (Friday). I think I never played in such a wind. It was supposed to rain. So, for me, it was a decent decision to interrupt.”
And his victory did not come easily. Djokovic despite his tetchy mood – aggravated when he received a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour – fought to the last, crawling back from 4-1 down in the final set and saving two match points before Thiem sealed the victory.
“It was an amazing match. It was my first five-set match at Roland Garros so it was a good one to have,” Thiem acknowledged.
“To be in the semi-finals with the three best players of all time is really amazing.”
On the challenge of facing Nadal he added: “It seems that anyone who gets to the final here plays Rafa. He will be the favourite but I hope to just leave it all out on the court again and we will see.”