Del Potro Conquers Thiem, Zverev Awaits

Argentine sixth seed to take on Zverev for second time

Juan Martin del Potro has extended his dominant unbeaten record against Dominic Thiem with a quarter-final victory over the No. 3 seed in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco on Thursday night. In the fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head clash between the two Top 10 opponents, del Potro brought down the 2016 champion 6-2, 7-6(7).

In their most recent encounter leading in, del Potro had claimed an epic five-set upset of the Austrian in the fourth round of last season’s US Open, where he saved a pair of match points in the process. While it was the Argentine who played Comeback King in that clash, on Thursday, it appeared as though Thiem was about to return the favour.

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Having broken del Potro, as the No. 6 seed served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, Thiem pulled the trigger on two enormous forehands to edge in front 6-5. A double fault from the Argentine handed the Austrian two set points in the ensuing tie-break.

But in humid evening conditions, del Potro survived both before back-to-back aces saved a third set point and brought up his first match point. Thiem surrendered the contest on a fifth double fault.

Del Potro was through to his second semi-final of 2018 (l. Bautista Agut in Auckland) with No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev up next. The Argentine won the pair’s lone prior FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter at the Rolex Shanghai Masters in 2017.

The 20-year-old German reached his first semi-final of the season on Thursday, cleaning up on serve to advance past Ryan Harrison of the U.S. 6-4, 6-1. The second-seeded Zverev saved all four break points faced, including three in the first set, and won nearly 70 per cent of his service points.

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Zverev broke in the fifth game of the opener, but faced trouble not long after, falling behind 0/40 while serving 4-3. Zverev, however, reeled off five consecutive points, and served out the set two games later. He saw no such trouble in the second set.

“I was very happy with how I played,” Zverev said. “I'm starting to play very well again, and that's all that matters for me.”

Zverev, who won five ATP World Tour titles during his breakout 2017, including two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, is still seeking his first title of 2018. Fans in Mexico will be treated to a blockbuster semi-final next as Zverev will meet either sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina or third seed Dominic Thiem of Austria. Del Potro leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0, including his memorable comeback from two-sets-to-love down during the 2017 US Open.