Tennis

Djokovic goes down without a fight at French Open

​Novak Djokovic's French Open title defence ended with a surprisingly lopsided 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0 quarter-final loss to sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria on Wednesday.

Defending champ's straight-sets loss ends with bagel

A recap of Wednesday at Roland Garros as Novak Djokovic fell, Simona Halep completed the comeback and Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski punched her ticket to the mixed doubles final. 2:49

His French Open title defence nearing an end, Novak Djokovic stumbled and tumbled to his knees on the red clay, his racket flying from his right hand as his opponent's backhand zipped past.

A year ago, Djokovic became the first man in nearly a half-century to claim a fourth consecutive major championship and completed a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros. But his form has dipped considerably since then, and now he has gone four majors in a row without claiming a trophy.

Against Thiem, Djokovic was out of sorts in so many ways.

"It's a fact that I'm not playing close to my best, and I know that," Djokovic said after his first straight-set loss at a major since the 2013 Wimbledon final. "For me, it's a whole new situation that I'm facing."

He wasted two set points in the opener. He wound up with nearly twice as many unforced errors, 35, as winners, 18. His backhand was particularly problematic.

Known for tremendous footwork and court coverage, the No. 2-seeded Serb even stumbled and tumbled to the court, his racket flying out of his hands, early in the second set. Djokovic was left on his knees, and soon he would be out of the tournament entirely.

"It's obviously tough to get out of it and figure out the way how to move ahead. At least I'm trying," Djokovic said. "I know that I have achieved the biggest heights in this sport, and that memory and that experience gives me enough reason to believe that I can do it again."

How unlikely was this result? Djokovic entered the day having won all five previous matches — and 11 of 12 sets — against Thiem, including in the French Open semifinals a year ago.

"It's amazing for me," Thiem said. "To beat him for the first time in the quarters of the French Open is a dream."

Plus, Djokovic had appeared in a record six consecutive semifinals in Paris.

Now the 23-year-old Thiem will face nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal next.

"You have to play the best guys round after round," Thiem said. "It's not getting easier on Friday."

Thiem is a talented, up-and-coming player, to be sure, and he is the only man to beat Nadal in the Spaniard's 23 matches on clay in 2017. That came in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open last month.

Nadal reaches semis

Earlier Wednesday, Nadal reached his record 10th French Open semifinal when No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain retired from their match early in the second set because of an injured abdominal muscle. Nadal led 6-2, 2-0 when Carreno Busta stopped.

Nadal has dropped only 22 games so far in the tournament, the fewest he has lost on the way to any of his 26 Grand Slam semifinal berths.

Murray outlasts Nishikori

Top-ranked Andy Murray is through to the semifinals after beating eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (0), 6-1.

Murray will take on former champion Stan Wawrinka in a remake of last year's semifinal, which Murray won.

Murray dropped the opening game of the fourth set on his serve and then swept Nishikori aside, beating the Japanese player for the ninth time in 11 career meetings.

He clinched victory on his first match point when Nishikori failed to return a powerful serve.

Wawrinka continues tear

Former champion Stan Wawrinka is through to the semifinals after beating seventh-seeded Marin Cilic in straight sets.

Wawrinka, who has yet to drop a set in this year's tournament, won 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

The third-seeded Swiss player fell and rolled into the net as he set up match point but he dusted himself down to win the match with an ace.

No. 2 Pliskova, No. 3 Halep advance

Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova advanced to the women's semifinals by beating No. 28 Caroline Garcia of France 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Pliskova reached the U.S. Open final last year, but the Czech player had never been past the second round at Roland Garros in five previous appearances.

On a sunny Court Philippe Chatrier, she lobbed Garcia from the back of the court to give herself two match points.

She only needed one, winning with a crosscourt forehand winner. Pliskova will next play No. 3 Simona Halep of Romania.

Halep advanced to the semifinals after saving a match point, beating Elena Svitolina 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-0.

The Romanian, who trailed 5-0 in the first set, was down 5-1 in the second. She bounced back and then saved a match point in the tiebreaker.

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