Dominic Thiem booked his place in the final of his own tournament after battling back from a set down to score a semi-final win over Roberto Bautista Agut in Kitzbühel on Friday.
It was a very close match, but that was to be expected against Struff. I am pleased that I played three really good matches against three completely different types of players. Dominic Thiem
The 32-year-old Spaniard had eased past Austria’s Dennis Novak, 6-0 6-1, on Thursday to finish second in Group Soccercoin, while Thiem was the first group winner through to the semis at the THIEMs7 presented by Soccercoin, after prevailing in his third and final round robin match over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, to consolidate his lead with an immaculate performance.
The World No 3 had to fight hard against Struff of Germany, though, to seal his 6-4 7-6(3) victory, as he was made to do so again by the Spaniard.
“It was a very close match, but that was to be expected against Struff. I am pleased that I played three really good matches against three completely different types of players,” said Thiem.
On Friday, Thiem looked to be cruising through to the final after racing into a 4-1 lead in the first set after breaking the Bautista Agut serve twice.
The Spaniard, however, showed great resilience to fight back to take a one-set lead following a tiebreak and silenced the socially-distanced crowd.
It was the first set Thiem had lost all week at the tournament, but the Austrian was not be outdone in front of his home crowd, though, as the World No 3 showed all his class to storm back to take the second 6-2.
There was only going to be one winner from there on in, with Thiem breaking Bautista Agut twice early in the final set to set up on one match point, on the Spaniard’s serve, and that chance was all he needed, blistering a return too powerful for his opponent and clinching the final set 6-2 to book a meeting with either Matteo Berrettini or Andrey Rublev in the final.
The other semi-final on Friday featured Matteo Berrettini, winner of the Soccercoin group, who took on Russia’s Andrey Rublev, placed second in Thiem’s group.
The World No 14 overcame Norwegian young gun Casper Ruud, 6-2 3-6 [10-4].
Even though Karen Khachanov celebrated a narrow two-set victory against Berrettini in Thursday’s night session, the Russian’s first triumph over the Italian, nothing changed at the top of the group.
Berrettini managed to win a sufficient number of games, 35, over the course of the week to keep him ahead of Bautista Agut, who won 31 games.
Unfortunately, the match between Berrettini and Rublev was stopped several times before being called off due to rain, at which stage the Russian was leading 6-4 2-1 in the second set.
Both players held onto their serves serve until the 10th game, when Rublev earned the first break of the match to 30 to win the opening set.
The match was interrupted after three games in the second set and will resume on Saturday.
Ultimate Tennis Showdown
Berrettini has an action-packed weekend ahead of him as he is also scheduled to compete in the final day of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in the south of France on Sunday where he will join Stefanos Tsitsipas, David Goffin and Richard Gasquet to battle it out for the title at the debut event in Nice.
Before the final four compete for the championship, five more round-robin matches will take place on Saturday: Corentin Moutet v Holger Rune; Alexei Popyrin v Dustin Brown; Tsitsipas v Goffin; Gasquet v Benoit Paire; and Feliciano Lopez v Elliot Benchetrit.
The results of the third and fourth matches on Saturday will determine the order of the Top 4 in the rankings, which will, in turn, determine who will play each other in the semi-finals on Sunday in which the No 1 in the standings will play the No 4, and No 2 faces No 3.
Tsitsipas, Berrettini, Goffin and Gasquet have already clinched the Top 4 spots, but the order isn’t set in stone. Going into the weekend, the Top 4 looks like this:
The third match on Saturday, Tsitsipas against Goffin, could determine the No 1 spot, and if ‘The Greek God’ overcomes ‘The Wall’, he will clinch the top spot.
If he loses, Gasquet, ‘The Virtuoso’ can take it if he beats Paire ‘The Rebel’, and his sets won and lost are better than Tsitsipas’.
The highest-ranked player who started in the field was Thiem, who only played two weekends due to other commitments, including his own Thiem’s 7 event this weekend.