Paris: Novak Djokovic reached his ninth Roland Garros semifinal Thursday, sweeping past Alexander Zverev to keep his bid to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice on track.
Top seed and world number one Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and will face Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Friday in what will be his 35th Grand Slam semifinal.
Thiem reached the semifinals for a fourth successive year with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.
The problem for Djokovic now in his pursuit of a second title in Paris and 16th major is the weather. Heavy rain is forecast to hit Paris again on Friday after Wednesday’s washout.
Friday’s other semi-final will see Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer resume their great rivalry, meaning this is the first time the top four seeds have all reached the last four at a Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open.
Fifth seed Zverev, bidding to reach a maiden Slam semifinal, made the stronger start.
The 22-year-old had break points in the third and fifth games of the opening set and finally broke through for a 5-4 lead. But top seed Djokovic levelled immediately before claiming the set.
Djokovic dominated the second set as breaks in the second and eighth games were enough to tighten his grip.
The world number one saved two more break points in the opening game of the third set and again made the German pay with a break for 4-2.
Thiem was utterly dominant, hammering 29 winners, as his erratic opponent contrived to tally 37 unforced errors and only 17 winners.
Khachanov had impressed against Juan Martin del Potro, but was never in with a chance.
A star is born
American teenager Amanda Anisimova stunned defending champion Simona Halep to set up a semifinal against Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty.
The 17-year-old downed Romanian star Halep 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier, while Barty saw off 14th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to also become a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist.
“This is more than I could have asked for,” said Anisimova, who is the youngest player to reach a major semifinal since Czech Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open.
“I knew if I wanted to win today I would have to do something different because it wasn’t going to be easy,” Anisimova added.
“I’m really happy with the performance because it’s one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”
The defeat for third seed Halep means it has now been 12 years since the last successful title defence in Paris — Belgian Justine Henin in 2007.
The winner of Anisimova’s clash against Barty will face either Britain’s Johanna Konta or Czech 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova in the final.
Results (Quarterfinals): Men: 1-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt 5-Alexander Zverev (Ger) 7-5, 6-2, 6-2; 4-Dominic Thiem (Aut) bt 10-Karen Khachanov (Rus) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Women: 8-Ashleigh Barty (Aus) bt 14-Madison Keys (USA) 6-3, 7-5; Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt 3-Simona Halep (Rom) 6-2, 6-4.