A Manolo Santana Centre Court that was packed to the rafters was treated to a barnstorming tennis match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem. It was an encounter that any other year could have been a semi-final, or even a final – both players know what it is to play in the decider in the Caja Mágica, despite the fact that neither of them has claimed the title there. In the ninth clash between the two players, it was Tsitsipas that took the spoils, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5).
Expectations were high for the encounter, and it did not disappoint, despite the fact that the two players came into the match in very different form. Stefanos Tsitsipas arrived in Madrid having reached the final in Barcelona the previous week and as the tournament’s third seed. On the other side of the net, Dominic Thiem, after a wrist injury, has spent the last year searching for the kind of form that took him to the US Open title in 2020. However, in tennis, rankings are irrelevant once the first ball has been struck in anger and Thiem was bidding for one of those wins that would finally give him the spark he has been looking for to find his A-game and end a run of nine straight defeats against Top 10 players. Just two points came between him and glory.
The match started with an early break for the 2017 and 2018 final, and Tsitsipas immediately let slip two chances of his own to break back. In the blink of an eye, Dominic Thiem had a 4-1 lead and he held his serve to close out the set, 6-3. However, if anyone thought the Greek player would give up that easily, they were sorely mistaken. He quickly levelled the match with a resounding 6-1.
The tie would be decided in a third set in which both players upped their games. Austrian and Greek held their serves until game eleven, a to-and-fro encounter in which Thiem managed to save four break points before closing out the longest game of the match. It would now go to a tiebreak, which the Greek player claimed 7-5 to seal victory, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6.
A smiling Stefanos approached the net, aware that he had just won an epic encounter in Madrid. Sebastian Baez now awaits him in a clash for the last sixteen.