Defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the Buenos semifinals following a 7-6, 6-2 win over Italian Paolo Lorenzi on Friday. Nadal battled both the heat and continued issues with his stomach during the victory.
“The conditions were really extreme and they made me very tired,” said Nadal. “So I am happy to be in the semi-finals as this is an important week for me. I thank all the fans who put up with the heat to support me.
“It’s tough for the players but also the spectators too.”
Thiem, who is the youngest player in the Top 20, lost his only career meeting with Nadal at the 2014 French Open.
“He is a very good player and has won many tournaments in the past year on this surface,” said Nadal of Thiem. “He is young and possesses great potential and I hope to play at a high level.”
In the other semifinal, Nadal’s countryman Nicolas Almagro beat Jo-Wilfred Tsonga for the first time in seven tries. He’ll await the conclusion of the David Ferrer-Pablo Cuevas match which was suspended due to rain with the Spaniard leading 4-2.
In Rotterdam, the semifinals feature Gael Monfils against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Nicolas Mahut vs. Martin Klizan.
In the marquee match yesterday, Monfils ended the run of 18-year-old Alexander Zverev with a 7-6, 6-3 win.
“He was playing very [well],” said Monfils. “It’s already a good sign for him to be in the quarters, so I knew I would have to fight. He beat Gilles in the round before, so I expected a tough match and I think he gave it to me, so I was pleased with my performance today.”
While Zverev’s bid came to close, another 18-year-old moved on. Rising star Taylor Fritz overcame a break down twice in the third set to deny Benjamin Becker 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(5).
After squandering early break in the third, Becker failed to serve out the match at 6-5. The American teen then pick on the German’s backhand in the breaker to seal his first appearance in an ATP level semifinal.
And in doing so, Fritz becomes the youngest American to reach an ATP final four since 17-year-old Michael Chang won the 1989 Wembley title
“It’s incredible, I can’t believe it,” Fritz said. “To come back in that way, with him serving for the match, I’ll never forget that.
“I told myself that the balls were worn out, and that I just had to make him play. I tried to make him beat me under pressure.”
In typical American fashion, Fritz possesses a big serve with a big forehand. But the 6-foot-4 California also has a mean backhand and a deep tennis pedigree as mother Kathy was a Top 10 on the WTA and father Guy in a teaching pro.
The 145th-ranked Fritz now meets Ricardis Berankis in the semifinals. Three-time defending champion Kei Nishikori faces Sam Querrey.
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