Dominic Thiem dug deep and his efforts were rewarded. The two-time Mutua Madrid Open finalist will be battling for his third appearance in the Caja Mágica title match after coming back in a clash that was his to lose. The Austrian saw off John Isner in a tie that lasted one hour and 55 minutes and ended 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Thiem is now in his fourth consecutive semi-final at the tournament, round after which he has only ever lost to the eventual champion Rafael Nadal (2017), Alexander Zverev (2018) and Novak Djokovic (2019).
After two victories over seeds Roberto Bautista -saving a match point- and Andrey Rublev, Isner came into the match with Thiem with a spectacular 64% of his serves unreturned. But, the Austrian disarmed the American giant and gradually gained ground on him.
In just fifteen minutes, Isner quickly took a 3-0 lead and had two points to make it 4-0 on his own serve. Although Thiem rescued the situation to make it 1-3, the American continued to dominate and took the first set with some unstoppable serving, closing it out with four aces on the trot.
With that powerful serve, Isner forced Thiem to focus on his own delivery. The doubts appeared again for the Austrian in the fifth game of the second set. For ten minutes, the two-time Madrid finalist had to push himself to the limits to overcome six deuces and four break points against him. It was a key moment for both players, as Isner’s game subsequently dipped and Thiem broke to love. That break was enough to level the tie and take it to a decider.
Thiem now had momentum on his side that helped him to a break in the ninth game of the third set. It proved enough for him to make a beeline to the semi-final.
Thiem, surprised to reach this stage
“Yes, I am surprised to be in the semifinals. I didn’t expect that. I was just expecting to hopefully play one or two good matches here against top opponents. Now I’m in the semis and facing Rafa or Sascha tomorrow. That’s amazingly good to get at least four matches on a top level. But it’s also a big surprise for me, and definitely didn’t expect that”.
Did you know…?
Thiem is now the third player to reach four consecutive semi-finals in Madrid. Only Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have previously done so. The Swiss strung together eight to the Spaniard’s five.