Djokovic Holds Off Thiem In Miami
The World No. 1 plays biggest on the most important points
Dominic Thiem pushed the World No. 1 on Tuesday, but the number 14 will haunt the 22 year old from their fourth-round match. That was the number of break points Djokovic erased during their two-hour contest at the Miami Open on Tuesday.
The five-time Miami champion didn't produce his best tennis but was clutch on the biggest points and won a laborious contest 6-3, 6-4 against the No. 14 seed at Crandon Park.
"I stayed tough when it was most needed. In the important moments I just tried to make him play, make him run. He has very powerful strokes from the back of the court, so he either makes some really amazing shots, down the line mostly, and some great inside out forehands, or he makes a mistake," Djokovic said. "It was a straight-set win, but far from easy."
Djokovic will face No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. The Serb holds a 22-2 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and has won their past nine matches.
The fourth-round match lived up to its billing: The co-win leaders on the ATP World Tour this season facing off, an up-and-coming and confident star, Thiem, going against the World No. 1, who's bidding for a sixth Miami title.
Djokovic gained the early advantage. He broke the Austrian during his first service game and fended off break point after break point to hold throughout the set.
It was never easy for Djokovic, though. He hit only six winners to 34 unforced errors. And he had to work to hold serve. Djokovic played 102 points on his serve while Thiem played 59 on his.
In the second set, Djokovic again earned an early break and looked to be in control of the match. At 3-2, though, Thiem finally broke Djokovic to tie the set when the Serb threw in a double fault, one of nine he committed during the match. But Djokovic quickly broke back to restore his lead.
Leading 5-4, he held off Thiem a few more times to win a 15-minute game and the match. But Djokovic walked away impressed with Thiem.
"Dominic is one of the leaders of this generation, no question doubt about it," Djokovic said. "He's already established himself as a Top 20 player the last couple years. He's getting stronger and more confident."