Dominic Thiem emerges as strong French Open contender after latest win

Dominic Thiem waving

US Open champion Dominic Thiem declared he was ‘pleased’ by his form as he moved into a fourth straight semi-final in the Madrid Masters.

Thiem secured a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over John Isner to book a last four clash against Alexander Zverev, who showed impressive form as he beat the great Rafael Nadal in front of a stunning Spanish crowd.

“I’m pleased with everything about my game,” said Thiem. “I’ve played three very different opponents. Everything is working quite well.

“Goundstrokes are working well. The serve was pretty good all the time. The return today, especially in some parts of the game, was very good.

“I guess that I’m on the right path definitely. But still many things to improve, getting 100 per cent back in the match rhythm, anticipation and everything. I am surprised to be in the semi-finals.”

Thiem’s return to form after his injury lay-off suggests he will be a big threat at the French Open, as he reflected on his achievement of overcoming Isner and his super-charged serve.

“He’s one of the best servers in history, especially here in the altitude, it bounces high and it’s so difficult to return,” added the Austrian.

“I think it’s comparable to a goalkeeper facing a penalty. If he places it well, if it has the right speed, there’s just no time to react.

“You either have to guess or hope that he’s missing the first serve. It’s just pure luck actually to return it. It’s like a 50/50 chance. That’s why it’s so, so tough.

“To start with a break down is almost like losing the first set but I stayed focused, kept a good fighting spirit. Very few points decide that kind of game and that’s how I turned things around in the second set.

It’s not only the first serve, but it’s also the second as well, which has such a high bounce.

“You go close, return it, which is unbelievably tough, especially here on clay in altitude, or you go five, six metres back behind the baseline. He has a lot of time to come in the net. It’s just incredibly tough to be a returner against him.”

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