Djokovic Will Go For Career Grand Slam
Serbian reaches fourth Roland Garros final
Novak Djokovic will go for the career Grand Slam once more in Paris.
The World No. 1 advanced to his fourth Roland Garros final on Friday by dispatching Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour and 48 minutes. "Best performance of the tournament" was how Djokovic described his 27th consecutive Grand Slam win.
He has lost in the final three times, including twice to Rafael Nadal and last year to Stan Wawrinka, when the Serbian was also going for a career Grand Slam. "Now I put myself in a position I wanted to be in ever since last year's final," Djokovic said. "[Roland Garros is] always high on the priority list when I start a season... and to be able to reach the finals is really special. I give myself another opportunity to win the trophy."
But this year, Djokovic, who will be playing in his 20th Grand Slam final, will face a new foe as he tries to become the first male player to hold all four major titles at one time since 1969, when Rod Laver completed a calendar-year Grand Slam. World No. 2 Andy Murray beat Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to move into his first Roland Garros final. The contest will be a re-match of the Australian Open final in January, which Djokovic won in three sets. It also will be the pair’s seventh meeting in a Grand Slam final.
“It's another Grand Slam title up for grabs for both Andy and myself,” Djokovic said. “One thing I know I can expect when I get on the court with him is it's going to be a very physical battle."
Career Grand Slam Champions
|Don Budge||1938 Roland Garros||22 years 357 days|
|Rod Laver||1962 US Open||24 years 32 days|
|Rafael Nadal||2010 US Open||24 years 101 days|
|Fred Perry||1935 Roland Garros||26 years 15 days|
|Roger Federer||2009 Roland Garros||27 years 203 days|
|Roy Emerson||1964 Wimbledon||27 years 244 days|
|Novak Djokovic||2016 Roland Garros?||29 years 14 days|
|Andre Agassi||1999 Roland Garros||29 years 38 days|
The Serbian was focused on his semi-final match on Friday, though. He controlled nearly the entire contest, giving Thiem few easy points and forcing the Austrian to try to raise his level of play.
Djokovic used deep service returns to push Thiem behind the baseline from the start of points. He rarely let Thiem gain better court position as the point progressed. As a result, Thiem was forced to dart from side to side to stay in points and had to try to hit winners from less-than-ideal spots.
The 22 year old, who was playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, sprayed 34 unforced errors to Djokovic's 15. Thiem's aggressive play did work at times, though, as he landed 27 winners to Djokovic's 15.
After Djokovic cruised through the first two sets, erasing the only break point he faced, Thiem rallied to start the third and looked like he might push the match to a fourth set. He held and then broke Djokovic for the first time. Thiem then delivered his best service game, blasting forehands and forcing Djokovic to play defence, to lead 3-0.
But Djokovic got on the board with a hold and won a 30-shot rally to earn the first point of Thiem's service game. The Serbian then played nearly error-free tennis. He broke at 15, held and broke Thiem once more to win four consecutive games and lead 4-3.
Three games later, he could finally think about winning his first Roland Garros final again.
Thiem leaves Paris with his best showing at a Grand Slam. He will have a career-high ranking of No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. “He was just too strong today. That's all I can say,” Thiem said. “But still, it inspires me to work harder.”
Consecutive Grand Slam Finals In The Open Era
|Player||Consecutive Grand Slam Finals|
|1||Roger Federer||10: 2005 Wimbledon - 2007 US Open|
|2||Roger Federer||8: 2008 Roland Garros - 2010 Australian Open|
|3||Novak Djokovic||6: 2015 Australian Open - 2016 Roland Garros|
|4||Rafael Nadal||5: 2011 Roland Garros - 2012 Roland Garros|
Most Appearances In Grand Slam Finals