Defending champion Novak Djokovic loses in French Open quarterfinals

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"It's a fact that I'm not playing close to my best", Djokovic said.

"He put me in a hard situation, so it's up to me to avoid being put in uncomfortable situations".

"I have been on tour for many years and I know that each day there is a different match and there is a different opponent".

This loss was in dominant fashion by a score of 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0, with the final set bagel being a rare occurrence indeed.

"It was just not there for me today".

He wasted two set points in the opener. Halep had just four winners compared to 11 unforced errors. His backhand was particularly problematic.

As Djokovic noted, in May, he split with his entire coaching staff, citing the need to find "that winning spark again". The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg wrote Djokovic "tanked" the final set, and the same report noted John McEnroe said on the ESPN broadcast "it looks like he [Djokovic] doesn't want to be on the court".

How unlikely was this result?

"Trust me, I'm thinking about many things", he said.

"His career has plummeted since he won last year's French Open and now constitutes an ordeal of a passionless competitor". "I have lived on that wave of excitement, I guess, 'til the U.S. Open or so". Otherwise, he lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray and lost in the third round of Wimbledon, the first round of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and the second round of the Australian Open.

Djokovic split with Boris Becker towards the end of past year as his number one ranking was about to disappear.

But the manner in which Djokovic - who teamed up with new coach Andre Agassi last month - crumbled in the third set will be particularly worrying for his fans.

"All the top players have been through that so I guess you have to go through it and learn your lessons and figure out a way to back it better".

"It's not getting easier on Friday".

Djokovic led 4-2 in what was a brutally physical first set lasting 73 minutes but played a poor game to hand Thiem the break back, serving two double faults.

Thiem must now upend familiar foe Rafael Nadal - who progressed when Pablo Carreno Busta retired while trailing 6-2 2-0 - to make a maiden grand slam final.

The fourth-seeded Nadal, a nine-time champion at Roland Garros, was leading 6-2, 2-0 when Carreno Busta stopped.

Nadal, 31, has spent only around eight hours on court, dropping 22 games in the process, to reach his record-extending 10th semi-final in Paris.

"I don't know how many games I lost this year, but I really don't care about this. Just pretty bad set", said Djokovic, who split with his long-term coaching crew last month and announced shortly before the French he would be working with eight-times major victor Agassi. "This final set, of course, that's all me".

Former champion Stan Wawrinka is through to the semifinals of the French Open after beating seventh-seeded Marin Cilic in straight sets.

Since Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in the Roland Garros final a year ago, he suffered a third round loss at Wimbledon.

Nadal will face Dominic Thiem in the last four after the Austrian dismissed defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-0. Halep has been a popular pick by experts but she struggled against Svitolina on Wednesday.

Appearing in his first grand slam quarterfinal, Carreno Busta - having the best season of his career - took a medical timeout and had to leave Philippe Chatrier court. "It was a pretty bad set", added Djokovic.

Djokovic also stressed he could no longer take success for granted with the players like Thiem snapping at his heels. "It's a tough question", Thiem said.

"At least I'm trying".

He clinched victory on his first match point when Nishikori failed to return a powerful serve.

"It was very tough". He's very powerful on both sides.

She entered this year's Roland Garros with just two wins in five previous visits. "Before the tournament I wasn't sure if I could play good tennis on clay".

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