Thiem reaches 3rd French Open semifinal; Keys reaches 1st

Dominic Thiem. (Vincent Thian/AP)

PARIS — Dominic Thiem made it to a third straight French Open semifinal after swatting aside second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Thiem is in sight of a first final at Roland Garros.

In his way are 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato. Their quarterfinal on Court Suzanne Lenglen was later Tuesday.

There was no stirring comeback this time for Zverev on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Heading into the match, the German had won three consecutive five-setters — trailing 2-1 in sets in each — but the rousing effort caught up to him against Thiem.

Just 10 minutes in, Zverev clutched at his left hamstring. He grabbed it again midway through the second set, after giving chase to one of several drop shots Thiem used to force Zverev to run a lot.

After falling behind 4-1 in that set an hour into the match, Zverev called for a trainer, who applied a thick bandage to his upper left leg.

Soon enough, Zverev lost the second set, too, and it proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome. He trailed 4-0 in the third set before getting a game.

Over on Lenglen, meanwhile, Madison Keys reached her first French Open semifinal by defeating unseeded Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Although not known as a clay-court specialist, the 13th-seeded Keys has not lost a set at Roland Garros.

"Today is a perfect example of what I have been trying to do, and I think it showed today," Keys said. "Because there were times when I had to go back and hit a higher ball, where maybe before I would have tried to hit a line-drive winner."

While Putintseva regularly lost her composure, Keys stayed calm throughout and the big-hitting American secured victory on her first match point with a powerful serve which clipped Putintseva’s racket and flew into the crowd.

Her box, including three-time major winner Lindsay Davenport, rose to acclaim Keys, who lost last year’s U.S. Open final to friend and countrywoman Sloane Stephens.

They will meet again in the semifinals after the 10th-seeded Stephens easily beat 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

She clinched the victory on her first match point with a forehand winner to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the first time.

The 98th-ranked Putintseva was trying to become the first player from Kazakhstan to advance to a Grand Slam semifinal anywhere.

She had her chances against Keys, troubling her with deft drop shots and spinning, looping forehands, but could not hold her nerve.

After losing the first-set tiebreaker, she started ranting at her box and struck the ground with her racket in frustration.

Known for her short fuse, she lived up to it, regularly spinning around to glare at her box with looks of incomprehension and hand-flapping gestures; or at other times mumbling to herself in frustration.

In the second game of the second set, she was convinced an incorrect call went in favour of Keys and asked the chair umpire to come down and check it.

"My God," Putintseva said as she walked away. "I can’t believe … unbelievable."

She spoke ironically about it after the match.

"He (the umpire) decided that the mark from the tennis ball should be, like, from basketball or something," Putintseva said. "So I don’t know where he was completing and what he was completing, because I think if we watch on the Hawk-Eye, the ball is totally out."

Djokovic faced an unfamiliar opponent in 72nd-ranked Cecchinato, who was cleared of a match-fixing charge on a technicality in 2016 — the year Djokovic won the last of his 12 majors at Roland Garros.

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