Thiem Shocks Federer In Stuttgart 2016
The Austrian moves into his first-ever grass-court final
No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem recorded a major upset against top seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, saving two match points to advance 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.
"I can't believe it. To beat Federer on grass is a dream," said Thiem after the match. "You need a little bit of luck to beat him on his best surface. I'm the happiest person on the Earth now."
Thiem now leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Federer 2-1. All three matches have taken place this year, with Federer winning in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour 500 Series event in Brisbane and Thiem prevailing last month in the third-round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome.
The win over Federer puts Thiem into his first grass-court final, where he'll play No. 7 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber. Thiem hasn’t beaten Kohlschreiber in their two previous career meetings, including the final of the ATP World Tour 250 event in Munich.
"On grass, I still feel like I am the underdog against a lot of players," said Thiem. "But I've played three very good matches this week and am looking for another now."
The first set saw both players produce their best tennis, hitting ample numbers of winners and minimal errors. A single break-point opportunity with Thiem serving at 1-2 was all Federer needed. The Swiss star capitalised on his chance and rode the one-break lead all the way to a one-set advantage.
Huge swings in momentum took place throughout the second set. Federer was unable to keep up the high level of play he produced early on while Thiem maintained his, allowing the Austrian to race to a 5-0 lead. With nothing to lose, Federer began to swing freely as Thiem’s form suddenly dropped. A pair of double faults and two unforced errors saw Thiem drop his serve at 5-3 and the set eventually went into a tie-break.
Federer earned a match-point opportunity at 6/5, but missed a high volley to wrap up the contest. Thiem erased another match point at 7/6 with a passing shot winner, then received a set point of his own after Federer missed a drop shot. He took advantage by wrapping up the set with an overhead winner and play was suspended immediately after due to rain.
"I was excellent until 5-0 and then obviously I got tight," said Thiem. "It was unbelievably close at the end of the set and then I had a little bit of luck to save the two match points."
When play resumed, Thiem grabbed a break of serve with a passing shot to lead 4-3 in the third set before another shower took the players off the court. Thiem comfortably held serve two more times after the second rain delay to move into the championship match.
Despite the loss, Federer said his grass-court game is moving in the right direction as he prepares for Wimbledon.
"You’re always a little bit disappointed when you lose any match with match points…but I don’t think I did anything wrong up to that point. It was a good match from both of us in tough conditions," said Federer. "I was pleased with how I played. I think I can play better in some big moments, but he came up with some really good shots when he needed it. I’ve just got to keep working hard and it’s going to go my way the next time around."