Dominic Thiem fights on in Antwerp and sets Hubert Hurkacz clash
The resurgence of Dominic Thiem continued on Thursday at the European Open in Antwerp.
The Austrian rallied to a tense 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 win against Francisco Cerundolo to continue his good form on the European indoor hard courts.
Thiem hit the ground running in the second-round clash in Belgium, but sixth-seeded Cerundolo appeared to have taken control when he broke his serve for 4-3 in the deciding set.
However, the former World No 3 fought back in some style.
Thiem held his nerve to clinch four of the next five games and seal a hard-fought two-hour, seven-minute victory.
“That’s why I work hard every day, to be able after two hours with a very close score, to play good shots, to play good tennis, because that is when it matters most,” said DominicThiem after the match.
“At 6-5 in the third, you have to come up with good tennis to be able to bring the match over the finish line, and luckily today it was my turn.”
It was Thiem’s second win against Cerundolo in the space of seven days, after he defeated the Argentine in straight sets in the quarter-finals in Gijon last week.
In contrast to that occasion, Cerundolo figures out a way to halt Thiem’s early momentum and force a deciding set in Antwerp.
The Austrian finished strong to claim victory though having converted four of his eight break point opportunities.
“It’s always difficult and interesting to play somebody two weeks in a row,” said Thiem.
“It’s a little bit strange, but I came out playing really good, 6-1 in the first set, but I know that he is a great player so it was obvious in mind also that It was not going to continue that way.
“Then I had a bad start to the second set, he took advantage, he came into the net… and the third set was an open game, 50/50.
“When I was a break down, luckily straightaway [I broke back]. It was a very intense and close match.”
The run in Antwerp so far has lifted the 17-time tour-level title-winner seven spots to No 125 in the ATP’s Live Rankings.
“[I’m] 0-3 against him,” said Dominic Thiem.
“For two years he has been [one of] the world’s best, especially indoors.
“Unbelievable serve, we just played three or four weeks ago in Metz, where he had a pretty easy win against me, and I hope I can make it more difficult for him tomorrow and be able to make another step ahead.”
Thiem next faces top seed Hubert Hurkacz as he attempts to reach his third tour-level semi-final of 2022.
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