Dominic's Dream: Thiem Triumphs In Vienna

Austrian leads ATP Tour with five trophies in 2019

Dominic Thiem may have forgotten if he was five or six years old when he first visited the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, but the Austrian will always remember lifting the trophy at the Wiener Stadthalle on Sunday.

The 26-year-old defeated good friend Diego Schwartzman 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in front of a packed home crowd in the Austrian capital, bringing his best level in crucial moments to complete the win after two hours and 25 minutes. Thiem improves to 9-0 in his home country this year, having also lifted the Generali Open trophy in Kitzbühel without dropping a set in August.

“It’s been an unbelievable year for me in Austria, to win titles in Kitzbühel and now here in Vienna,” said Thiem. “I have had some troubles to deliver my best tennis in front of these amazing crowds in Kitzbühel and also here in Vienna and now, in the same year, I win both titles. It is completely unreal to me."

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The World No. 5 becomes the first player to lift five tour-level trophies in 2019, breaking a five-way tie with fellow Top 5 stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev. Thiem extends his unbeaten streak at the ATP 500-level to 10 matches, having also lifted the China Open title earlier this month.

In his 10th straight appearance at this ATP 500 event, Thiem becomes the first Austrian to claim the trophy since Jurgen Melzer defeated Andreas Haider-Maurer in an all-Austrian championship match in 2010. Thiem, a 16-time tour-level titlist, entered the week with an 8-8 tournament record, with his previous best results in Vienna coming en route to the 2013 and 2018 quarter-finals.

The Austrian owns five FedEx ATP Head2Head victories from seven matches against Schwartzman. The two-time Roland Garros runner-up also improves to 45-16 this year. This is the fourth straight season that Thiem has recorded 40 or more tour-level wins.

“Three times this week, I came from one set down," said Thiem. "To share the court and final with a guy who became a very close friend in all these years is very nice in one way. To beat him in such an important match is hard in the other way… It has been a dream week.”

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Schwartzman made a quick start to his second ATP 500 final, breaking Thiem on three occasions to silence the home crowd and earn a one-set advantage after 43 minutes. The Argentine soaked up Thiem’s powerful groundstrokes from behind the baseline and fired low passing shots to the laces of his opponent with pinpoint accuracy. Thiem attempted to shorten points by rushing to the net and introduced drop shots to disrupt Schwartzman’s rhythm, but the World No. 15 transitioned up the court well to finish points.

After firing an ace out wide to save break point at 2-3 in the second set, Thiem soon forced a decider to bring the crowd inside the Wiener Stadthalle to its feet. The Austrian played with great variety on his backhand side and attacked Schwartzman’s forehand to gain the break at 4-4, before firing a powerful serve down the T to level the match.

Thiem rode the momentum into the deciding set, breaking serve in the opening game with a series of flat winners down the line. The Austrian maintained his advantage and broke his opponent for the fourth time with a forehand down the line to claim the title, before collapsing to the floor in celebration.

“I think he did really well and he didn’t miss anything," said Thiem. "I really have troubles to play against him, because it doesn’t matter what I do. If I play fast or if I play slow, he always has an answer to everything… I was fighting and, of course, I had this huge advantage with the home crowd. I used it well at the end.”

Schwartzman was bidding to follow in the footsteps of 2012 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who is the only Argentine to triumph at this ATP 500 event. The Los Cabos champion will travel to the Rolex Paris Masters in 14th position in the ATP Race To London with 2,115 points. Schwartzman trails eighth-placed Berrettini by 545 points.

“I am very happy because I have got the confidence again,” said Schwartzman. “I felt very good on court. The support of the people was crazy. It was really nice and real for me. In another place, really far from home, I felt really nice. After the first set, he played so aggressive. He was better than me and that is why he won the title.”

Did You Know?
Among players who have contested 10 or more deciding sets this season, Thiem leads the ATP Tour with a 12-2 record. Thiem recovered from a set down on three occasions this week, also completing comeback wins against Fernando Verdasco and Matteo Berrettini.