Argentine 12th seed Diego Schwartzman defeated US Open champion and third seed Dominic Thiem in a five-hour epic to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals, his first ever grand slam last-four appearance.
The 28-year-old Schwartzman triumphed 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 and will face either 12-time champion Rafael Nadal or Italian teenager Jannik Sinner for a place in the final.
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It was one marathon too many for Thiem, the runner-up in Paris for the last two years, who had needed five sets and three-and-a-half hours to down world No. 239 Hugo Gaston in the fourth round.
The 1.7m Schwartzman’s success came on the same day that compatriot Nadia Podoroska, the world No. 131, reached the last-four of the women’s singles.
“Dominic is one of the great players. He is my best friend and I have a lot of respect for him,” said Schwartzman.
“So this win is very important for me. In the second and third sets, I was going a little crazy and I was screaming at myself because I had so many chances.”
“But, come on, I deserved to win tonight,” added Schwartzman who defeated Nadal in the Rome quarter-finals on the eve of the French Open.
Thiem had been attempting to reach a fifth successive semi-final in Paris. However, despite crunching 65 winners to his opponent’s 47, he committed 81 unforced errors in a match which featured 19 breaks of serve and at five hours and eight minutes was the second longest of the tournament.
However, the Austrian was able to keep things in perspective and was not disheartened the result didn’t go his way. He smiled and congratulated his great mate when they met at the net, and had nothing but kind words to say after the match as well.
“I can’t say it was a bad tournament for me. I’m pretty happy about it,” Thiem said.
“I was over the limit today. Physically and mentally I’m on the edge. I gave everything. Amazing match. First in my career over 5 hours and Diego fully deserves the win. It’s fine.
“At the net I just told him that he deserves it. I think he’s for the first time top 10 with that win — that’s also great achievement.
“We both gave everything but in tennis there is only one winner. I’m sad to lose but I’m happy for him.”
Thiem’s classy sportsmanship was captured in some great photos as he wished Schwartzman well.
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Schwartzman recovered from a break down in the 65-minute first set to sweep through the tiebreaker. But Thiem kept hammering away forcing the Argentine to save seven break points in the ninth game of the second.
The Austrian broke through for a 6-5 edge before wrapping up a 71-minute set. In a tie of dramatically fluctuating rallies, eight breaks of serve punctuated the third set.
Schwartzman even had a set point but couldn’t convert and Thiem pounced in the breaker to sneak ahead.
The Argentine blinked again in the 10th game of the fourth as three more set points went begging, but he clung on, snatching the breaker after a 73-minute set.
By this stage, they had been on court for over four-and-a-half hours. However, a weary Thiem was broken in the sixth and final game of the decider as Schwartzman celebrated becoming the 10th Argentinian man to make the semi-finals of a major.