Dominic Thiem makes progress on comeback pledge
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Dominic Thiem took another step in the right direction on his journey back to the top of tennis after getting the better of Francisco Cerundolo to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP 250 European Open in Antwerp. The 29-year-old has been on the comeback trail since overcoming a serious wrist injury.
Thiem rose to world No 3 in 2020 after coming from two sets behind to defeat Alexander Zverev in the final of the US Open. But he injured his wrist at the Mallorca Championships in June 2021 and missed over eight months of action.
The Austrian lost his first seven matches after his return in the spring and dropped to as low as No 352 in the world, before climbing back up to No 132. But he has started to gain momentum in recent months and reached the latter stages of three hard court tournaments in July, before progressing to the final of the Rennes Challenger last month.
Thiem and Cerundolo traded sets in Antwerp, before the Argentinian secured an early break of serve in the decider. But Thiem fought back and ultimately came out on top as he won the match 6-1 1-6 7-5.
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Thiem had claimed victory against the same opponent in the quarter-finals of the Gijon Open earlier this month. And following his latest triumph, the Austrian said: “It’s always difficult and interesting to play somebody two weeks in a row. It’s a little bit strange. But as you said I came out playing really good – 6-1 the first set.
“But I know that he’s a great player. So it was obvious also in my mind that it’s not going to continue that way. Third set was an open game, 50/50. When I was a break down, luckily straight away the re-break and 7-5 in the third. But a very intense and close match.”
“That’s why I work hard every day to be able also after two hours and in a very close score, to play good shots, to play good tennis. Because that is when it matters most. You know, 6-5 in the third. You have to come up with good tennis to bring the match over the finish line. Luckily today it was my turn.”
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Thiem is now set to take on top seed Hubert Hurkacz, who he has never beaten, for a place in the last four. And the four-time Grand Slam finalist is expecting a tough encounter. “It’s 0-3 against him,” he added.
“Obviously for two years he’s been in the world’s best, definitely. Especially indoors. Unbelievable serve he has. We just played three or four weeks ago in Metz where he had a pretty easy win against me. I hope I can make it more difficult for him tomorrow and be able to make another step ahead.”
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