Thiem Tops Schwartzman To Clinch Tie For Austria
The World No. 4 defeated good friend Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6(3) to lead Austria to a 3-0 victory against Argentina. Thiem now leads Schwartzman 6-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, with five of those victories coming in straight sets.
"I'm really happy with the improvement from Saturday to today. [I had a] good practice session yesterday where I was working on the things which were not that great on Saturday, and today was really I think a match on a high level. Still, here and there some mistakes, which maybe didn't happen towards the end of last year, but in general it was a great match. I think [it was] also enjoyable for the crowd. Many great rallies. I'm very happy."
It was a must-win tie for Austria, who lost to Croatia on Saturday. Austria and Argentina both now hold 1-1 records heading into the final round of Group E matches on Wednesday. Only one team from the group is guaranteed to partake in the Final Eight, which begins Thursday in Sydney. Croatia leads the way with a 2-0 mark.
Hot Shot: Thiem Lands Stunning Combination
Thiem came out of the gate focussed, giving few errors away while Schwartzman was still finding his rhythm. The Argentine launched a neutral backhand long to give Thiem the break at 1-1, and that lapse was all the 16-time ATP Tour titlist needed to cruise through the opener. He did not face a break point in the first set.
But with a raucous crowd pushing Schwartzman with chants of “Ole! Ole, Ole, Ole! Ole! Ole!”, the Argentine dug his sneakers into the hard court and battled even harder. There were four straight service breaks to begin the second set, with chants getting louder and louder. Thiem had too much firepower in the end though, with a point in the tie-break — in which Schwartzman ran every which way to track down ball after ball until Thiem finally put a winner away — serving as a good representation of the match.
The World No. 105 pushed former World No. 3 Marin Cilic to three sets on Saturday, leading the Croat to say that Novak was playing at a “great level”. The Austrian maintained that against Pella, holding all 10 of his service games across the final two sets to stun the lefty.
"I felt not really good in the beginning. It was a huge difference [from] two days ago, the conditions. I mean, the first set looks quite easy for him," Novak said. "After the first set I went to a toilet break with Thomas, and I came out and changed a little bit my game and fought back in the game. I think at the end I played really good tennis."
Highlights: Novak Fights Back To Upset Pella
Novak admitted that Austria's captain, former World No. 1 Thomas Muster, gave him a "rough speech". But it was clearly productive, with Novak storming back against Pella.
"He just told me to start moving better, hitting the ball, going for it, not waiting for him to miss," Novak said. "That's what I changed. I think I stepped in the court, and I played some really good shots."
After the first set, it appeared that triumph would be difficult. Novak won only 39 per cent of his service points in the opening set, getting broken three times, while winning only three return points. But Novak did not shy away from the occasion.