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Dominic Thiem defeats Novak Djokovic to reach French Open men’s final

2019 French Open - Day Fourteen
Dominic Thiem celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic in a French Open semifinal that was suspended Friday and completed Saturday at Roland Garros.
(Clive Mason / Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic’s 26-match Grand Slam winning streak ended with a dramatic 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 loss Saturday to Dominic Thiem in a rain-interrupted French Open semifinal that spanned more than four hours over two days.

Thiem wasted two match points with quick unforced errors when serving for the victory at 5-4 in the fifth, but he made his third chance count, smacking a forehand winner to break Djokovic in the last game.

The top-ranked Djokovic had trouble with Thiem, to be sure, but also with the weather, with the chair umpire and with his odd propensity for heading to the net much more often than usual, including some serve-and-volleying that often failed.

He was stopped two victories short of collecting his fourth consecutive major championship, a run that began on the grass at Wimbledon last July, then continued on the hard courts of the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

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Instead, it is Thiem, an Austrian ranked No. 4, who now gets a chance to win his first Grand Slam trophy on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Thiem will face 11-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s final. Nadal won that one, part of an 8-4 lead for the Spaniard in their head-to-head series.

“All the time, if someone reaches the finals here, it’s against Rafa,” Thiem joked.

It will be the fourth straight day that Thiem is in action because of postponements, whereas Nadal will be well-rested, having played his quarterfinal Tuesday and his semifinal Friday, when he beat Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

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The women’s final followed Thiem-Djokovic at Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday, with No. 8 seed Ash Barty of Australia against unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. Neither had ever participated in a major singles final.

On Friday, Thiem had just broken Djokovic to go up a break at 3-1 in the third set when their match was suspended because of a shower. They resumed 18{ hours later, in dry, breezy conditions. The wind that was so fierce Friday — spreading loose, rust-colored clay dust from the court surface all over the place, making for something that seemed like a sandstorm — was much more manageable Saturday. It rippled players’ shirts, yes, but did not cause havoc with serve tosses and shots the way it had the evening prior.

They repeatedly engaged in long and entertaining baseline exchanges that lasted 10 shots, 20 shots or more. They used speed and anticipation to track down each other’s shots. They walloped the ball from all angles.

The very longest of these tended to go Djokovic’s way: He won 37 of 61 points (61%) of nine or more strokes.

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada won the French Open girls singles title.

The top-seeded Fernandez beat eighth-seeded Emma Navarro of the U.S. 6-3, 6-2.

The 16-year-old Fernandez was runner-up at the Australian Open.


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