Thiem Topples Murray For Barcelona Final Berth
Thiem was on the front foot throughout the encounter, firing 41 winners, including 25 off his forehand wing and six aces. The fourth seed, who improves to 10-1 on clay this year, advanced to his 12th ATP World Tour final.
"It's the first win [over a World No. 1], so it's really something special," said Thiem. "But it's also the first win over a Top 10 guy this season. There are many positive things to take from today's match. For me personally, it's the best victory this year so far. I went down in the third set when he broke me in the first game. But the way I came back mentally was a huge step forward today."
"It would be a big honour to play the nine-time champion here tomorrow," Thiem added about potentially facing Nadal. "To get two matches in a row against two of the best players ever is big for my game."
Murray struggled to find his footing in the early proceedings on a sun-kissed afternoon at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. Unable to inject significant pace into his groundstrokes, the World No. 1 fell behind an immediate break as a drop shot landed short. Thiem used his penetrating backhand to open the court for his forehand, pushing Murray side to side. He would consolidate a double break for a 6-2 lead after just half an hour.
But Murray would halt Thiem's momentum in the second set. Persistently striking drop shots to draw Thiem forward, the top seed changed the court position battle in his favour. After breaking for 5-3, Murray would force a decider with a return winner.
The drama would reach new heights as the lead vascillated between the two competitors in the third set. Murray and Thiem twice traded breaks of serve, before the Austrian claimed his first match point with the Scot serving to stay in it at 5-4. Murray was unable to handle a sublime lob as Thiem secured a spot in the final after two hours and 14 minutes.
It was Thiem's first win in three FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes with Murray, having most recently met at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami in 2015. He overturned an 0-4 mark against World No. 1s.
Murray, meanwhile, saw his ruthless win streak in ATP World Tour 500 events snapped at 21. He had won titles in four consecutive appearances - London/Queen's Club, Beijing and Vienna in 2016 and Dubai this year. The Dunblane native was making his fifth trip to the historic Trofeo Conde de Godo in Barcelona and first since 2012.
"In the first set, I didn't have many chances, but I started to play better in the second," said Murray. "It was quite windy out there and difficult to get into a rhythm. He started to hit the ball pretty hard and was pushing me back. When the conditions are like that, it's important to be the one dictating the points. I started to do a better job of that, but in that last game I missed a couple shots I shouldn't have.
"I got three matches in three days against all different players. Feli uses a lot of slice and variation, Ramos yesterday is a lefty and today against Dominic, who plays with the kick serve and so much spin. To play two hours today after three yesterday, will be good for me."