Djokovic folds, rising Thiem to face Nadal

At ROLAND GARROS, DAY 11 — Without a doubt, Dominic Thiem played incredibly well to stun Novak Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0 in the quarters. The most amazing thing was two and half weeks ago, the Serb blew him out 6-1 6-0 in Rome. Last year in the semis in Paris, Djokovic easily beat Thiem in three sets.

It’s one thing to lose, but why the heck did Djokovic look so awful in the third set? Over the past four years, the former No. 1 has been so consistent, so smart, so on the ball — all the time. But not anymore, as his head is spinning around. In the third set, he didn’t want to play anymore. He was done.

Can the 12-time Grand Slam champion recover soon? I doubt it. But, by the end of the year, Djokovic have calmed down. It’s very hard to say. That is exactly what he is thinking.

“In the last couple of tournaments, I have had some great matches. It’s unfortunate to finish Roland Garros the way I have done today,” Djokovic said. “I obviously always expect a lot from myself, but it’s a fact that I’m not playing close to my best, and I know that. I’m trying, as everyone else, to work on the game, and work on things. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a whole new situation that I’m facing, especially in the last seven, eight months, not winning any tournaments, which hasn’t happened in many years. All the top players have been through that. So, I guess you’ve got to go through it, try to learn your lessons and figure out the way, how to get out of it stronger. It’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Instead of facing Rafa Nadal in the semis, it will be Thiem going against the Spaniard. Nadal got through when Pablo Carreno Busta retired in the second set. Nadal has sailed through the tournament with very little time spent on court.

Nadal and Thiem have played a bunch of times, with Nadal blasting him in Barcelona, and then Thiem out-lasting him in Rome. It should be fairly close, but the 14-time champion Nadal is the favorite for sure. Nadal will try to crush Thiem’s one-handed backhand by applying his heavy spin. If he does, Nadal will waltz into the final.

We saw a fine win by Stan Wawrinka, who destroyed Marin Cilic 6-3 6-3 6-1. The Swiss is so good right now that he has a legitimate chance to reach the final, if he manages to upend Andy Murray.

Last year in the semis, Murray out-though Wawrinka 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2. This time, Wawrinka has to be patient, and wait for his opportunities.

New women’s No. 1 could be crowned

What a comeback by Simona Halep, who was down 6-3, 5-1 to Elina Svitolina before she recovered, and Svitolina became super nervous. Halep won 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0. The Romanian stood tall, while Svitolina cracked under pressure.

On Thursday, there will be a gigantic match with Halep facing Karolina Pliskova. If Pliskova prevails and moves on to the final, she will become No. 1. If Halep wins the semifinal, then the Romanian needs to win the tournament to become No. 1. If neither of those things happen, Angelique Kerber stays on top.

Imagine that. Maybe a new No. 1.

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