Sometimes it is better to take a step back in order to move forwards, as demonstrated by Dominic Thiem, who today progressed to the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating Australian player Alex de Miñaur 7-6(7), 6-4 in one hour and 51 minutes.
“I think it was a pretty good match from both of us”, said Thiem after the tie. “For me it was perfect because obviously he’s first of all a top player, and second of all he also likes to play longer rallies. There were some good, long rallies. I was out of breath very often. It was perfect for me to get back a little bit the match rhythm, to run down a lot of balls”.
The Austrian, who chose to return home in the middle of March to prepare for the clay swing, is now reaping the rewards of his decision. The results were not coming for Nicolás Massú’s pupil early in the season and he chose to take a temporary break from competition to clear his mind and be able to return at 100% mentally and physically.
Although he made a slow start and lost his serve in the first game, Thiem grew into the tie against a lively De Miñaur. Gradually, the Austrian gained ground in some extremely tough rallies. Just when he needed it most, he found his rhythm. He levelled the set by breaking the Australian’s serve to make it 3-3, but was unable to close out the set until the tiebreak, which produced some outstanding exchanges. First Thiem had a set point on his own serve only to be denied by De Miñaur’s winner to make it 6-6. At 7-6, the Australian had an opportunity to take the set, but the two-time Mutua Madrid Open finalist hit a sensational backhand down the line and went on to lead the match.
The second set was no less intense and Thiem had to dig deep to save his first service game, turning a dangerous 40-0 on its head. Despite taking a 3-1 lead, De Miñaur broke his serve to make it 3-3 and the Austrian responded once again to take a lead that proved unassailable.
“Also the score was super close, no?”, said the world No. 4. “If I don’t make that backhand passing shot at set point down, it’s a different story. It was a match that had everything.”.
Isner, next opponent
Without putting himself under unnecessary pressure, Thiem is gradually upping his game as he moves through the draw. Now in the round of eight, the Austrian will face a John Isner who, having knocked out Roberto Bautista after saving a match point, today saw off sixth seed Andrey Rublev 7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (4). The American fired 29 aces in the match and will be high on confidence for his next clash.
Did you know…?
Thiem has reached the quarters or further in the last four editions of the Mutua Madrid Open. On each occasion only the eventual champion, Nadal (2017), Zverev (2018) and Djokovic (2019), was able to stop him in the Caja Mágica.