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MALTATODAY 9 June 2019

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29 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 JUNE 2019 SPORTS TENNIS WORLD number one Novak Djokovic's bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time was ended by Dominic Thiem in the French Open semi-final. Thiem beat the 32-year-old 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the semi-final, which be- gan on Friday but was interrupted by bad weather three times. The fourth seed will face 11-time champion Rafael Nadal today, a repeat of last year's final. Thiem, 25, is the first Austrian player to reach a second Grand Slam final. "It was an unbelievable day for me," said Thiem, who had never beaten a world number one at a major before. Friday's play was suspended once, then cancelled because of wind and rain in a move criticised by former players and journalists, who pointed out that the skies later cleared with daylight still left. Nadal's semi-final win over Roger Federer took place earlier on Friday so was not affected by the suspension, while Thiem wrapped up victory yes- terday afternoon after the third break in play because of rain. For 2016 champion Djokovic, who had won 26 Grand Slam matches in a row, defeat ended his hopes of becom- ing the first man in the Open era to hold all four major titles at once on two separate occasions. Deja vu? Thiem lost in straight sets to Nadal in last year's final, but has long been heralded as a future Grand Slam cham- pion - with the French Open seemingly his best chance on his favoured surface. The final may go differently this year as Thiem has a new coach havinge started working with Chilean Olym- pic gold medallist Nicolas Massu three months ago. Thiem, who was playing his fourth semi-final at Roland Garros, can also take confidence from his win against Nadal on clay at the Barcelona Open in April. The world number four went on to win his 13th tour title at the tourna- ment and reached the semi-finals in Madrid in May before losing to Djoko- vic. The French Open is Thiem's most successful Grand Slam. He reached the US Open quarter-final in 2018 but has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon or the Austral- ian Open. Djokovic frustrated by weather and line calls Thiem and Djokovic had already been affected by the weather at Roland Garros. Both players had to play quar- ter-finals on Thursday after rain also stopped play on Wednesday. After being broken twice in the first set, Djokovic asked the umpire whose responsibility it was to decide whether it was too windy to continue, but play carried on and he dropped a set for the first time this tournament. The world number one looked in- creasingly frustrated on Saturday, get- ting a warning for exceeding the 25 seconds allowed to take a serve and then speaking angrily with the umpire after losing the third set. "Well done, you made yourself a name. You made yourself recognisable now," said Djokovic, who questioned several line calls during the match. Rain interrupted play for a third time, with the match stopped for over an hour meaning the women's final did not start at 14:00 BST as scheduled. And as soon as the players returned to the court, a close line call gave Thi- em break point and prompted another discussion between Djokovic and the umpire. The Serb saved the break point and went on to break back in the next game only for Thiem to then immediately break once more. He then had two match points on his serve, but Djoko- vic won the game to make the score 5-4 to the Austrian. Three games later, Thiem got another match-winning opportunity and this time he took the chance to reach a sec- ond successive French Open final. Novak Djokovic beaten by Dominic Thiem in semi-final FRENCH OPEN 2019 Thiem is into his second successive French Open final

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