Thiem Powers Through Zverev To Reach First Final at Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Thiem Powers Through Zverev To Reach First Final at Australian Open

Dominic Thiem comes back from a one set deficit to defeat Alexander Zverev on his way to his first Major final on hard courts

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

5] D. Thiem b. [7] A. Zverev 3-6 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(3)  (from Melbourne, Vanni Gibertini)

 

Despite a perfect start with a monster performance on his serve during the first set, Alexander Zverev could not sustain the heavy-hitting rallies imposed by Dominic Thiem and had to forego his dream to reach his first Major final. In the second men’s semifinal on Thursday night in Melbourne, Zverev allowed the two-time Roland Garros runner up Dominic Thiem to regain control of the game and could not take advantage of the chances he had during the match, especially two set points in the third set, and ended up losing two fatal tie-breaks to concede defeat.

Zverev ended the match with a better balance between winners and unforced errors (42-33 versus 43-40) and better stats on his serve, but a poor 5 out of 14 on breakpoints was impossible to overcome and ended up costing him the match.

During most of the day matches had taken place inside the Rod Laver Arena under a closed roof, as temperature in Melbourne soared to a sizzling 43 degrees Celsius bringing all matches on the outside courts to a halt. Just before the beginning of the semifinal the roof had been opened just enough to consider the match outdoor, but leaving only a small gap between the two sections of the roof cover so that they could be quickly closed again in case of rain.

In fact, before Alexander Zverev could serve out the fourth game of the set for 2-2 the first raindrops started falling on Melbourne park turning this second semifinal into an indoor match. Before the short rain interruption, the two players had traded breaks in the first two games of the match and while Thiem was dictating the rallies, Zverev was harvesting easy points with his serve.

With an outstanding 92 percent of first serves, Alexander Zverev closed out the first set in 40 minutes, but that performance was hard to sustain for a long period of time, and when it was possible for Thiem to get into more rallies his grip on the match started to get tighter. Nonetheless, Zverev managed to level the score at 3-3 recovering an early break, but failed to take the lead allowing Thiem to fight the match on his favourite battleground of violent rallies from far behind the baseline. Without enough free points from his serve, Zverev could not counter the Austrian’s firepower and conceded the second set, not before producing an eye-popping “counter-smash” that will surely make the highlights of every sports news program in the world.

After the first game of the third set, play had to be suspended for almost 10 minutes due to some lights going off behind the players, but as the match resumed Zverev continued to lack the ability to serve as effectively as he did in the first set, mainly because Thiem had found the perfect returning position to contrast both his first and his second serves. But a bad service game at 2-3 prevented the Austrian to take a decisive lead in the set and put him in a dangerous position when he was forced to save two set points at 4-5. After brilliantly escaping that situation, Thiem came back very strong to dominate the subsequent tie-break by 7 points to 3 and take a 2-sets-to-1 lead.

Servers dominated the fourth set, as no player had to face even a single breakpoint and only once the returner managed to get to “40”. Another tie-break was therefore inevitable: Thiem took an early 3-0 lead, Zverev won back two minibreaks for a 3-2 but then squandered the chance to equalize with a terrible smash shot almost into the backboard. That was the last chance for Zverev to claw back into the match: after that point, the n.7 seed fired to lethal forehands to advance to three match points and clinched the victory with a scholastic forehand volley.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gilles Simon and Felix Auger Aliassime reach the the semifinal in Marseille

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Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Vasek Pospisil 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5, before Tsitsipas earned his first break, when Pospisil hit a backhand long. The Greek star wrapped up the first set with an ace after 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas claimed his second break at 3-3 with a backhand return and reeled off 10 consecutive points to seal the second set 6-3.

Tsitsipas fired 8 aces and won 26 of his 30 first service points.

“It was not easy. I knew I would have to fight and be dynamic. He plays a very aggressive brand of tennis, so every point has to be treated respectfully. I played with passion and patience, and my fighting spirit, when I am in the right zone. It means good things can happen”, said Tsitsipas.

Gilles Simon cruised through to an upset 6-4 6-0 win over Danil Medvedev to advance to the semifinal. Simon converted five of his six break point chances and lost his serve only once.

The French veteran will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-2. The young Canadian star broke serve four times and and won 83 % of his first serve points.

Gerasimov earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead, but Auger Aliassime came back by winning two consecutive games to win the opening set 7-5. Auger Aliassime converted his fourth break point in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead and sealed the second set with another break in the eighth game.

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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