Rublev Downs Defending Champion Thiem In Vienna
Russian to face Anderson in semi-finals
The Russian struck 30 winners and saved both break points he faced to take his ATP 500 winning streak to 13 matches after one hour and 34 minutes. Rublev is attempting to capture his third straight trophy at the level, following title runs at the Hamburg European Open and the St. Petersburg Open.
“I came here with the mood that I have nothing to lose,” said Rublev. “I [had] already a really great season. Last year, I already [made] the quarter-finals so I knew it was going to be tough for me to get to the semi-finals.
”I came here with zero expectations, just [wanting] to do my best. To try to fight every match. At the end, I am here in the semi-finals.”
Rublev is through to his fifth semi-final of the year. In each of the previous tournaments where he has reached this stage in 2020, he has gone on to lift the trophy. Rublev improved to 37-7 this year with his second ATP Head2Head win against Thiem (tied at 2-2). Only Novak Djokovic owns more wins at tour-level this year (39-2).
Rublev will face Kevin Anderson for a place in the championship match. The 23-year-old is tied at 1-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against the 2018 champion and won his most recent clash against the South African at Roland Garros earlier this month.
“Last time I played [Kevin] at Roland Garros in completely different conditions. We cannot take that match as an example. Tomorrow is going to be a completely different story,” said Rublev. “It is a fast court, indoors, so he will be really comfortable with his shots, with his serve.
“We will see. Kevin has much more experience than me, so I have nothing to lose. I go there to do my best and we will see what is going to happen.”
Thiem was attempting to extend a winning streak of his own. The US Open champion entered his fourth ATP Head2Head clash against Rublev with an 11-match winning run on home soil. Alongside his Vienna title, Thiem won last year’s Generali Open in Kitzbühel to finish 2019 with a 9-0 record in Austria.
In a first set dominated by serve, Rublev saved the only two break points of the set with powerful serving at 1-1. Both players battled from the baseline in the tie-break, with just one mini-break deciding the outcome of the set. Rublev, who had moved up to court to fire consecutive forehand winners from 3/4, capitalised on a forehand error from his opponent and claimed the opener in 55 minutes.
“Dominic is one of my best friends on the Tour. It is always tough to play against him because he is one of the best players and one of the best fighters on the Tour,” said Rublev. “I knew that it was going to be really tough. I respect him a lot.
“The first set was really tough for both of us. I think he had a little more chances than me, especially in the tie-break when the score was 4/3. We had two unreal rallies. I won both of them.”
Rublev made an early breakthrough in the second set, as he pushed Thiem into the tramline with an inside-out forehand and struck a forehand winner up the line to break. The Russian doubled his advantage two games later with consistent depth on his returns, which may have contributed towards Thiem’s double fault on break point. Rublev forced a backhand return error from Thiem to convert his second match point.