Dominic Thiem came from a set down to defeat David Goffin in a clash of maiden Grand Slam quarter-finalists to set-up a French Open semi-final against world no.1 Novak Djokovic, winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Goffin's slow start but fast finish to first set
The first three games of the match saw breaks of serve, suggesting nervousness from both in their maiden last-eight appearance at a major. Yet Thiem, bludgeoning winners past Goffin from both his forehand and backhand, was the more aggressive & the one with the early advantage.
But the Austrian again handed a break back to his Belgian opponent after a sloppy service game with a few unforced errors and Goffin used this momentum to overturn a 4-2 deficit to win four games in a row. The 12th seed had grown from a slow start and taken the opening set 6-4.
Thiem frustrated but level
The winner of this match not only would reach their first Grand Slam semi-final, but would also break into the world's top-10 for the first time. It seemed as if Goffin was suddenly in a hurry to get towards those two targets, breaking for an early 2-0 lead in the second, only for Thiem to halt the run of six games lost in a row to snatch the break back.
However, Goffin's plan of being aggressive, early returning and taking the time away from Thiem was seemingly working. He broke in a game lasting close to ten minutes, moving himself to within a game of a two sets to love lead, yet was unable to close out.
That would come back to haunt him, with Thiem winning a fantastic tiebreak, including an incredible defensive lob during a set point down, with Goffin failing to punish. He hadn't been at his best, but Thiem showed why he was a three-time winner on tour in 2016 to level proceedings.
The Austrian pulls clear
Court Suzanne Lenglen was more than half-empty, and those who had seats and weren't there were missing out on a special encounter between two of the game's present and future stars.
The disappointment of losing the second set tiebreak was quickly put behind Goffin, who broke the 22-year old's serve in the opening game of the third. But again, Thiem had an answer, blistering a forehand down the line on a Goffin second serve to break back.
He was now starting to find his range. That crucial and fantastic set point save in the second appeared to have been a turning point. Thiem would break the Goffin serve for the second consecutive time and moved himself within a set of a major semi-final for the first time.
Thiem races to the finishing line
Goffin was now showing signs of physical and mental exhaustion, his shots looking jaded and the guy across the net in front. The thirteenth seed was storming to the finish and dominated the fourth set, taking it 6-1 and making his first last-four appearance at one of the four biggest tournaments in tennis.
With Tomas Berdych losing to Djokovic, Thiem is guaranteed to move up to a career high world no.7 in the new ATP rankings post Roland Garros. But all eyes will be on tomorrow (weather permitting) and a mouth-watering encounter between the two men who lead in terms of victories on tour this year. Djokovic (42) - Thiem (41). The no.1 - a potential future no.1.
A place in the final awaits the winner.