Dominic Thiem dashed the hopes of a dream Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray final in Barcelona when the Austrian took down Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 earlier today in the semifinals.
Thiem squandered a break lead in the third but with Murray serving 4-5, 15-0, the Scot didn’t win another point giving up uncharacteristic errors and Thiem took with an exception lob that Murray couldn’t return.
It was Thiem’s first career win over a World No. 1.
“It’s the first win, so it’s really something special,” said Thiem of beating a No. 1. “But it’s also the first win over a Top 10 guy this season. There are many positive things to take from today’s match. For me personally, it’s the best victory this year so far. I went down in the third set when he broke me in the first game. But the way I came back mentally was a huge step forward today.”
Murray, who took a late wildcard into the event, was in his first Barcelona semifinal.
“In the first set, I didn’t have many chances, but I started to play better in the second,” said Murray. “It was quite windy out there and difficult to get into a rhythm. He started to hit the ball pretty hard and was pushing me back. When the conditions are like that, it’s important to be the one dictating the points. I started to do a better job of that, but in that last game I missed a couple shots I shouldn’t have.
“I got three matches in three days against all different players. Feli uses a lot of slice and variation, Ramos yesterday is a lefty and today against Dominic, who plays with the kick serve and so much spin. To play two hours today after three yesterday, will be good for me.”
Thiem finished with 41 winners (25 from the forehand) and 6 aces.
In the final, Thiem will meet Nadal who had no trouble with Horacia Zeballos blitzing the Argentine lefty 6-3, 6-4.
Thiem beat Nadal last year in Buenos Aires but Rafa’s won both their European clay meetings in straight sets.
“It would be a big honour to play the nine-time champion here tomorrow,” Thiem said. “To get two matches in a row against two of the best players ever is big for my game.”
Nadal is 52-3 at the event and he’s won 9 of his last 10 matches.
“It’s not a surprise that Dominic is in the final. He is one of the best in the world, and he loves clay,” Nadal said. “At the beginning of the tournament, he was already one of the main favourites to be in the final.
“He is a player with a lot of power. He imposes a lot on his shots, and if you let him be comfortable, it’s almost impossible to stop him. It’s going to be a difficult match, the type of match where either you play great or you won’t win.”
Nadal is seeking a 10th Barcelona title which would equal his record mark at Monte Carlo. He’ll also try for his 71st overall title and 51st on clay.
In the Budapest final, Lucas Pouille will meet British qualifier Aljaz Bedene. Pouille stopped Paolo Lorenzi while Bedene bested Laslo Djere.
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