Dominic Thiem suffered a shock 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 French Open quarter-final defeat against Diego Schwartzman on Tuesday evening in a major boost to Rafael Nadal’s hopes of winning his 13th crown at Roland Garros.
Thiem was expected at least reach the final four in Paris after securing his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open last month.
The Austrian usually plays his best tennis on clay and he has been beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals.
The pair could have met in the semi-finals this year but Schwartzman produced a big upset in a battle that lasted over five hours.
There were many twists and turns along the way – including both players arguing with the umpire when it started raining in the second set.
But it was Schwartzman who keep his cool to book book a potential semi-final showdown with Nadal, if the world No 2 beats Jannik Sinner.
“Dominic is one of the best players in the world, won the last Slam, two finals here and we are good friends,” Schwartzman said after the match. “I have a lot of respect for him. This a very special moment.”
Meanwhile, former British No 1 and Eurosport pundit Tim Henman said: “When you reflect on these matches, especially five-set matches, you’re always going to get those swings in momentum.
“But when Dominic Thiem got that third set to go up two sets to one you just thought he was going to take the match by the scruff of the neck and run away with it.
“But both players competed so hard, such long rallies, playing for such a long time. Schwartzman was never going to give up so it was just incredible tennis to watch.”
Roland-Garros runner-up Alex Corretja added: “It was a tribute to tennis. I believe this is one of the most emotional matched I can remember In a long time. Especially here on clay at Roland-Garros.
“The match had everything. It was difficult for both of them to serve it out but just to see how much they were fighting… they were trying to find solutions in windy conditions, heavy balls, starting in the day and ending at night, everything!”
The biggest threat to Nadal’s crown in Paris is now world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who he could play in the final.
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