Djokovic crushes Zverev to set up last four clash with Dominic Thiem
Novak Djokovic came through a potentially dangerous French Open quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev completely unscathed with a commanding 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory Thursday.
The top seed Serb made it through to the semifinals for the first time since lifting the French Open in 2016, keeping alive his hopes of joining Rod Laver as the only men to hold all four majors simultaneously at two points in their careers.
Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have reached the semifinals of the same Grand Slam event for the first time in seven years.
Zverev, seeded fifth, started positively but despite firing down four aces and 18 winners – Djokovic had zero and 10 respectively – he surrendered the first set with a whimper.
The relentless world number one looked practically impossible to pass as he made just three unforced errors in the second set, while Zverev crumbled at key moments and delivered three straight double faults to fall further adrift.
Djokovic took advantage and eased past the German to set up a meeting with last year's runner-up Dominic Thiem – who won their last meeting in Paris in the 2017 quarterfinals – on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Friday.
Djokovic passed up three break points during the thrilling early exchanges and slipped behind when his backhand landed wide to end a 24-shot rally, offering Zverev a chance to serve out the set from 5-4.
But the 15-time major champion hit straight back and reeled off the next two games with the assistance of Zverev's inconsistent serve.
Djokovic raised the stakes in game two of the next set, sending a sublime passing shot down the line before his opponent again failed to get a serve in at a crunch moment.
The Serbian's defense continued to frustrate Zverev, who surrendered the set after astonishingly producing three double faults in succession.
Zverev managed to remain on serve early in the third but he sent a routine forehand volley into the net to give Djokovic a 4-2 lead, before passing up two openings for an immediate reply.
After saving match point with an ace, Zverev soon saw a slice go long to extend his wait for a first major semi-final.