Weather has ensured that it wasn’t all plain sailing for the remaining four competitors in the men’s French Open event but it hasn’t contributed greatly to the makeup of the tournament with three of the four top seeds still in at this stage. Only Rafael Nadal, who withdrew with an injury, hasn’t made it there with many people’s dark horse in this tournament Dominic Thiem, taking advantage of the withdrawal to make it to a semi-final date with Novak Djokovic. Check out their Head to Head stats and matches here.
Although he would have been highly favoured to come out of a Nadal semi final, there’s no doubt that Djokovic will be relieved to avoid the man who has dominated this tournament for the past decade. The World No.1 hasn’t been in destructive form, having made hard work of Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round, losing the first set and having to come from a break down in the fourth. He followed that victory up with an impressive straight sets victory over Tomas Berdych who had just come off a good win against David Ferrer in the previous round.
Djokovic has been expected to wrap up the Grand Slam nearly every year since picking up his first Wimbledon and nears ever closer, blowing his best chance to date last year when he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets in the final after convincingly defeating Nadal earlier in the tournament.
Thiem had showcased his talent for large parts of the year and has moved to a career high No. 7 thanks to his run to the semi finals. There had been the concern that he had been overplaying with 5 tournaments in the 6 weeks prior to the French Open. While Thiem hasn’t cruised to this stage, finding himself down a set on three occasions, he was never in any real danger of exiting the competition at any stage and at least shouldn’t have overdone it before getting to this stage.
While there is no doubt Djokovic is feeling the pressure of the expectations placed on him as he chases the final slam and a fourth in a row, it’s hard to see Thiem remaining consistent enough to see him trouble the Serbian over a five set format. Djokovic did show some discomfort playing in the bad rainy conditions and this will probably be to Thiem’s advantage if he can take advantage of a rattled Djokovic.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in three sets
Check out our Wawrinka vs Murray semis preview and prediction.