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Sunday 4 December 2016

Djokovic lucky not to get disqualified in Paris 'circus'

Thiem, 22, reached the last four of a major for the first time with a 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 6-1 win over Belgium's David Goffin. Photo: Reuters
Thiem, 22, reached the last four of a major for the first time with a 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 6-1 win over Belgium's David Goffin. Photo: Reuters

A competitor lambasted the French Open as "one big circus" yesterday as soggy weather once again came back to exasperate players seeking a foothold in the semi-finals of the rain-hit claycourt major.

Novak Djokovic was lucky to escape being defaulted and Austrian tyro Dominic Thiem provided plenty of entertainment as they finally caught up with the bottom half of the men's draw by setting up a cross-generational semi-final.

With Andy Murray and defending champion Stan Wawrinka enjoying a welcome rest day, world number one Djokovic was back on court for a third day running and again had to dodge the showers as he sealed a 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over a fuming Tomas Berdych.

Thiem, 22, reached the last four of a major for the first time with a 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 6-1 win over Belgium's David Goffin.

Serena Williams dropped her first set of the tournament and came within two games of defeat before ramming home her title credentials with a 5-7 6-4 6-1 victory over little-known Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.

She faces a semi-final with Dutch outsider Kiki Bertens, who beat Swiss eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-2. A week of wet weather and chilly temperatures has robbed the tournament of its usual joie de vivre. Hence it was little wonder that the smallest of incidents could tip players over the edge.

After missing a break point early in the third set, Djokovic bounced his racket angrily on the ground and then looked round in horror as it flew towards a line judge. The official dodged out of the way and the racket hit the back fence. Djokovic was full of apologies and knew things could have ended differently.

Had it hit anyone, it would have been an automatic default.

But Djokovic's momentary rage was nothing compared to how angry Berdych felt a few games later. The Czech seventh seed lost his cool when Australian official Wayne McEwen ordered play to be halted after Djokovic grumbled about the misty conditions.

Berdych shouted: "This is a circus. An absolute circus. We've been playing two and a half sets like that."

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