Djokovic Beats Zverev To Set Up Thiem Semi-final In Paris
Serbian star aims to beat Thiem for second time on clay in 2019
Djokovic moved to within two match wins of holding all four Grand Slam championship titles for the second time after beating the fifth-seeded German 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and nine minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The 32-year-old Djokovic leads 3-2 in clay-court clashes, including a 7-6(2), 7-6(4) victory over Thiem in last month’s Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals. The pair has split two previous Roland Garros meetings in 2016 (Djokovic) and 2017 (Thiem).
“Dominic is deservedly where he is, one of the top four guys, especially on clay,” said Djokovic. “That's where he's playing his best tennis. He's got that tremendous power in his game, especially with [his] forehand and serve. I think his backhand has also improved a lot in the past couple of years.
“[It] seems like his relationship with [Nicolas] Massu has helped him a lot, also mentally, I think, in big matches. [It] seems like it has been working really well. If he continues playing this way, not just on clay, but in general, I think we will probably be seeing him more often on different surfaces in the final stages of the tournament.”
Djokovic reached three Roland Garros finals (2012, 2014-15) prior to completing the career Grand Slam of all four majors with the 2016 title. The victory also meant that he held all four Grand Slam championship crowns between 2015 Wimbledon and 2016 Roland Garros.
Djokovic came through early pressure, saving break points in the third and fifth games, but with errors creeping into Zverev’s game, particularly in long and physical rallies, the first set was in the balance. When Djokovic made consecutive groundstroke errors at 4-4, Zverev clinched the first service break. However, in the next game, Djokovic out-maneuvered Zverev in long rallies en route to a six-game winning streak.
At 5-6, Zverev double-faulted on Djokovic’s third set point to end the 57-minute opener. Djokovic then won 13 of the first 14 points in the second set, showcasing exquisite timing on his backhand to control the pair’s fifth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Back-to-back double faults by Zverev handed Djokovic the second set, and while the German’s team attempted to rouse their charge, the World No. 1 was in irresistible form to seal two further service breaks in the third set.
The Serbian has a 28-5 match record in 2019, which includes his seventh Australian Open title (d. Nadal) and the 74th trophy of his career at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Tsitsipas). He also finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia three weeks ago.
The 22-year-old Zverev, who committed 40 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 18, saw his eight-match winning streak end. Prior to Roland Garros, where he contested his second straight quarter-final, the German lifted his 11th ATP Tour trophy at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open (d. Jarry).