Anderson Saves M.P. To Topple Top Seed Thiem
Raonic, Sock prevail on Thursday
In a thrilling third-round battle whose finish was delayed by rain and numerous shifts in momentum, 15th seed Kevin Anderson saved a match point in the final-set tie-break to prevail in a wild contest over top seed Dominic Thiem on Thursday at the Citi Open 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(7).
“It feels great. I’ve worked really hard and committed myself to playing the kind of tennis I want to play. I could do that on the practice court and sometimes struggled to bring it to the match court, but now I’m succeeding with that more often,” said Anderson. “Obviously each day presents a new challenge, but I look forward to each one and I’m much more confident overall.”
Anderson appeared to have the match on his racquet at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break, but Thiem erased a match point with a huge forehand winner and went on to force a decider. The Austrian nearly completed a dramatic comeback, but failed to convert on a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 in the final set.
The match fittingly went right down to the wire, with Anderson hitting a booming serve to erase a match point at 5/6 in the deciding-set tie-break. Thiem fought off another match point at 6/7, but the South African finally came out on top after two hours and 46 minutes.
Anderson boosts his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Thiem to 6-0, with all of their meetings coming on hard-courts. The 31 year old is through to his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season after achieving that feat on red clay this past May in Estoril.
Next up for Anderson is qualifier Yuki Bhambri, who continued his dream run by defeating Guido Pella 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1. The 25 year old from India, currently No. 200 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is through to his first quarter-final since Chennai in January 2014.
"I don't know if his game has changed so much since we played last [in 2012], but I'm a more efficient player with my return game," said Raonic. "I take advantage of those second-serve opportunities and stay sharp on my serve as always. I've picked up a lot of experience over the years and dealt well with those difficult situations."
Both men held serve throughout the first set, but Baghdatis was unable to convert on a 6/4 lead in the tie-break. The Canadian fought back to grab the early advantage on his second set point at 8/7. Raonic rode the momentum through the remainder of the match, breaking Baghdatis twice in the second set to advance in one hour and 31 minutes. He improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Baghdatis to 3-1. Raonic also saved two set points in the second set of his opening-round win on Wednesday against Nicolas Mahut.
Next up for Raonic is eighth seed Jack Sock, who advanced in an all-American battle with #NextGenATP American Jared Donaldson 7-6(6), 6-2. Sock’s match was nearly identical to Raonic’s, saving a pair of set points at 4/6 in the first-set tie-break before going on to control the remainder of the match. He boosts his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Donaldson to 2-0, with the other win coming this past March at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami.
“My serve helped me a lot today. I was allowed to get a lot of free points, or at least set up the forehand and be aggressive with the first ball,” said Sock. “This is my favourite time of the year, playing in front of home fans finally.”
Raonic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Sock 8-2 and won their lone meeting at the Citi Open in 2014. Sock saved two match points to take their most recent match this past October at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. They were scheduled to compete this February in the Delray Beach Open final, but Raonic withdrew before taking the court due to a hamstring tear in his right leg.