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Djokovic delighted to see big guns firing on all cylinders

 

Good job: Alexander Zverev and winner Novak Djokovic
Good job: Alexander Zverev and winner Novak Djokovic
Dominic Thiem

By Eleanor Crooks

Novak Djokovic joined his great rivals in the semi-finals of the French Open as the dominance of the top seeds reached its seemingly inevitable conclusion.

World No.1 Djokovic is still to drop a set after a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory over Alexander Zverev, and he will take on fourth seed Dominic Thiem, who defeated Karen Khachanov 6-2 6-4 6-2 to reach a fourth successive semi-final at Roland Garros.

With Rafael Nadal taking on Roger Federer in the other semi, the top four seeds are all through to the last four for the first time at a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2012.

Remarkably, it is the first time at a Slam since the French Open seven years ago that Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have all made it through to the semi-finals.

Djokovic said: "It speaks about the quality of the tournament and the quality of the top four guys that reached the last four.

"It's great to have the top four players competing in the semi-finals at the biggest event because it brings even more rivalry, more importance to those matches and to the tournament in general.

"Dominic is deservedly where he is, one of the top four guys, especially on clay. He's got that tremendous power, especially with forehand and serve. I think his backhand has also improved a lot in the last couple of years.

"If he continues playing this way, not just on clay, I think we will probably be seeing him more often on different surfaces in the final stages of tournaments.

"It's a different time for us now than five years ago. We're a bit older. But we have still been enjoying some of our best tennis in the biggest events, talking about Federer, Nadal, and myself. For me, that's really great to see."

Djokovic's win over Zverev was his 26th in succession at the Slams. Two more wins will see him become the first man in the Open era to hold all four titles for a second time.

"The further I go in my career, the sense of history-making is only getting stronger," said Djokovic. "That's one of the greatest motivations I have.

"There is no better way to make history of the sport than to win Slams and play your best in the biggest events, and try to stay No.1 as long as you can."

Djokovic and Thiem faced each other in the semi-finals in 2016, with the Serbian winning easily, but Thiem turned the tables the following year in the quarter-finals before reaching his first Grand Slam final here last year.

The Austrian has played himself into top form after a difficult start to the tournament but, like other hopefuls before him, finds himself with a formidable road to the trophy.

"It's incredibly difficult to win a Grand Slam," he said. "Because especially for us players who don't have one yet, if everything goes quite normal, we have to beat two players with 15 or more Grand Slams.

"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 is for me."

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