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Chasing history, Djokovic welcomes strongest Grand Slam semi-final line-up in seven years

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 7 Jun 2019
  • The 2019 French Open is the first major since the 2012 Australian Open to feature the top four players
  • It's also the first time Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have made the semi-finals of the same major since the 2012 French Open
Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

Novak Djokovic is on the verge of creating history at the French Open and is welcoming the challenge of facing the very best men’s tennis has to offer in the business stage of the tournament.

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For the first time since the 2012 French Open, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have advanced to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, while fourth seed and last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem completes the line-up. Furthermore, it’s the first time since the 2012 Australian Open that all four top players have made the semi-finals of a tour-level event (a stretch of 488 tournaments). The 2019 French Open semi-finals couldn’t possibly be any stronger - and that’s exactly the way Djokovic wants it as he attempts to become the first man in the Open Era to hold all four major prizes simultaneously on two occasions, following on from his 2016 triumph at Roland Garros that completed his initial sweep.

Novak Djokovic (PA Images)
“It speaks about the quality of the tournament and the quality of the top four guys that reached the last four,” Djokovic said after his straight sets win over fifth seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
“I think it’s great to have the top four players competing in the semifinals on the biggest event because it brings even more rivalry, more importance to those matches and to the tournament in general.”

The 15-time Grand Slam champion also paid tribute to his two main rivals - Nadal and Federer - praising their remarkable longevity in the sport.


“But, you know, we have still been enjoying some of our best tennis in biggest events, talking about Federer, Nadal, and myself. That’s great to see,” Djokovic said.
“I mean, obviously these two guys, Nadal and Federer, arguably the biggest legends of this sport and best players, successful players ever, so to be in the mix with them and to have myself successful career is quite a great feeling.”

Djokovic will face Thiem for a place in the final on Friday. The Serbian leads their head-to-head 6-2, including winning their last match in the Madrid semi-finals last month, but Thiem prevailed emphatically in their biggest match to date, crushing Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0 in the French Open quarter-finals two years ago.

Dominic Thiem (PA Images)
Thiem, who beat Roger Federer to claim his first Masters 1000 title earlier this season at Indian Wells, reached the French Open semi-finals for the fourth straight year after easing past Karen Khachanov in straight sets on Thursday.

The Austrian is aiming for his maiden Grand Slam title in Paris, but Thiem acknowledges just how tough it is to win one when you have to beat Djokovic and then one of Federer or Nadal back-to-back.

“I mean, it’s incredibly difficult to win a Grand Slam. Because especially for us players who didn’t have one yet, because if everything goes quite normal, we have to beat two players with 15 or more Grand Slams,” Thiem said.
“So I think everybody can imagine how difficult this is. But I will step on the court tomorrow, try everything, of course, give everything. I hope it’s going to be positive in the end, but the challenge is huge. Novak is in very good shape again, probably playing his best tennis of his life.
“I’m in the semi-finals with maybe the three best players of all time, so everybody can see how tough the way it is for me.”


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Chasing history, Djokovic welcomes strongest Grand Slam semi-final line-up in seven years

Novak Djokovic is on the verge of creating history at the French Open and is welcoming the challenge of facing the very best men’s tennis has to offer in the business stage of the tournament.

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