Dominic Thiem was masterful in his win yesterday over Rafael Nadal. But today in the Rome semifinals the Austrian had absolutely nothing to offer Novak Djokovic as the Serb rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 victory.
Djokovic began the day finishing off Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4 after the match had been stopped due to rain before the fourth game of the second set last night.
Then, Djokovic watched 20-year-old Alexander Zverev beat John Isner 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1 to reach his first Masters final and become the youngest to advance to a title match at this level since a 19-year-old Djokovic did it at 2007 Miami.
“I’m into my first final of a Masters, which is great, and especially on clay,” Zverev said. “It’s a very physical game and it’s very tough points all the time, long points.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing, but I still want to keep improving and I still want to develop my game and get better.”
Zverev will break into the Top 15 and he’s now won 12 of his last 13 matches, losing only to Pablo Cuevas last week in the Madrid quarterfinals.
Isner had enjoyed a terrific week beating the likes of former Grand Slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, but fell to 0-3 against the German.
“I thought he played pretty well from the back of the court,” Isner said. “But that’s what he does. His backhand is world-class. He won’t miss that shot very much, really, ever. So credit to him.”
Djokovic returned to the court in the evening and had his way with Thiem who couldn’t muster any of the success he had against Nadal. Though Djokovic’s game had a lot to do with that.
“This is undoubtedly my best performance of this year and maybe even longer,” Djokovic said. “I’m overjoyed and happy with every minute that I spent on the court today. It was a perfect match. Everything that I intended to do, I have done it and even more.
“There’s not much to say except that I am so grateful to experience something like this, because I have been waiting and working for it for a long time.”
Thiem couldn’t get his footing in the rallies and Novak forced a tired Austrian into 17 errors to just 8 winners. And he won just 2 of 13 points on second serve.
“It’s really tough for me to play against Novak because he doesn’t give me any time. I don’t really like to play against him, because he has a game style which doesn’t fit me at all,” said Thiem. “He was there from the first point and was pushing himself. I was expecting that from him, but couldn’t really do anything against it because I was empty.
“I was not mentally on the level I should be against these opponents,” he added. “It happens from time to time if you play a lot of matches. And if it happens against a guy like Novak, a score like 6-1, 6-0 is the logical outcome.”
Djokovic and Zverev have never played before and the Serb doesn’t want to miss a chance at his first title since Doha.
“He’s a nice guy and someone that I like,” Djokovic said of Zverev. “I have seen him grow up. I know his older brother. It’s amazing to see 10, 12 years ago, when he was only a boy going around with his racquet, and now we are going to play in the final of one of the biggest events in the world.
“It’s a great beginning of his professional career he has had so far and he deserves to be in the final, but I’m going to make sure he doesn’t get his hands on that trophy tomorrow. I’ll at least try.”
Zverev will try to add Djokovic to Roger Federer and Wawrinka as top men he’s beaten.
“Novak, he’s one of the greatest players of all time,” Zverev said. “He is never going to be easy, especially in a final when he already starts to have a rhythm. I think he played a great match against delPo today and yesterday.”
SUNDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTRALE start 1:00 pm
WTA – SINGLES FINAL –  S. Halep (ROU) vs  E. Svitolina (UKR)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – SINGLES FINAL –  A. Zverev (GER) vs  N. Djokovic (SRB)
PIETRANGELI start 11:30 am
WTA – DOUBLES FINAL –  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) vs  Y. Chan (TPE) / M. Hingis (SUI)
Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – DOUBLES FINAL –  I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Granollers (ESP) vs  P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)
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