Heading into the quarterfinals of the 2017 French Open, Novak Djokovic knew he needed a big win to fight toward a second consecutive Roland Garros title. The No. 2 seed that he held would not carry him to the top without constant focus and commitment, and he knew every match could be the battle that would threaten or end his run to another Grand Slam championship. His match with Austria’s Dominic Thiem proved to be such a battle.
Djokovic came to the court early to hit a little more before his match, and, while his new coach Andre Agassi was not present, the Serbian tennis star looked calm, composed and confident as he walked onto the court to face Thiem.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2017
But then, Thiem started hitting.
The first set lasted a full hour and 14 minutes, and Thiem squeezed out the win 7-6 (5) in the closest set the two would have all game. The Austrian then pushed forward, taking the next two sets 6-3, 6-0 and forcing Djokovic to confront a lost set and match for the first time in the tournament.
While Thiem pumped his fists in celebration, Djokovic walked over to the net with the same composure he showed at the start of the match and gracefully shook Thiem’s hand.
Djokovic frowned, then gave a resigned smile, congratulating his opponent on the victory and acknowledging that Thiem earned his win.
“He deserved to win, he was definitely a better player on the court today,” Djokovic said in his news conference after the match.
Thiem and Djokovic battled each other in last year’s French Open semifinal, but this year, just Thiem will have the opportunity to take the court at the next stage of the tournament. The Austrian will now face No. 4 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals on Friday.
“It’s great for me to be in the semifinals again, to defend that,” Thiem said. “And of course on Friday is coming the toughest opponent ever here in Roland Garros. Going to be the fourth match against him in five or six weeks. He’s again in his best shape.”
Thiem said that while he feels relieved and excited to have beaten Djokovic, he knows he cannot settle heading into his contest with Nadal.
“Do [I] feel ready to win a Slam? It’s a tough question,” Thiem said. “So far I have always played way worse match the following day if I beat a top guy. So I hope I can improve that. I mean, it’s a joke how tough it is to win a slam.”