Thiem Reaches First Masters 1000 Final
Eighth seed Dominic Thiem reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Saturday at the Mutua Madrid Open, not facing a break point in defeating Pablo Cuevas in a physical 6-4, 6-4 match that ended after midnight.
“I feel great. It means a lot to play my first final at this level. These tournaments are so strong, so it's amazing for me to go that far. I'm very happy at the moment,” said Thiem. “I will give everything tomorrow and hope I can play a good final.”
The Austrian will play Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final after the Spaniard defeated Novak Djokovic earlier in the day. Nadal leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Thiem 3-1, with all four of their matches coming on clay. The four-time Madrid champion dropped just five games in defeating Thiem two weeks ago in the Barcelona final.
“I think he played a very good match in Barcelona. I played well also. If I'm at my best and he's at his best on clay, he's probably the better player. If you see his records on this surface, it's just amazing,” said Thiem. “But tomorrow is a new day. I will try to improve the things I didn't do that good in Barcelona and then we will see what happens.”
Thiem evens his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Cuevas at 1-1, gaining revenge over a loss at Roland Garros in 2015. The 23-year-old Austrian had gone 0-4 in his previous Masters 1000 quarter-finals prior to this week, but broke the streak on Friday against lucky loser and #NextGenATP Croatian Borna Coric.
Thiem has continued to excel on clay in 2017, winning the title this February in Rio de Janeiro (d. Carreno Busta) and finishing runner-up two weeks ago in Barcelona (l. Nadal). He improves to 14-2 this season on the red dirt. In addition to scoring his first victory over a World No. 1 against Andy Murray in the Barcelona semi-finals, he staged a miraculous comeback in Madrid by saving five match points to defeat 12th seed Grigor Dimitrov in their third-round battle.
Despite the loss, Cuevas can be pleased with reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final. The 31-year-old Uruguayan won four consecutive three-set matches to make the final four. Cuevas also picked up the biggest win of his career by defeating Stan Wawrinka en route to a quarter-final finish in Monte-Carlo.
Thiem and Cuevas could face off again in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Cuevas opens up against a qualifier or lucky loser, while Thiem has an opening-round bye.
Although Cuevas stayed close in the scoreline throughout the first set with Thiem, the eighth seed comfortably held serve while Cuevas was often forced to deuce or saving break points. Thiem grabbed the lone break of the opening set at 2-2 with an overhead winner and maintained his slight lead to take the early advantage.
Both players remained even early in the second set, but Thiem played 15 points in his first three service games while Cuevas played 33. The long week caught up to Cuevas at 4-4 and he dropped serve after being unable to dig up a low approach from the Austrian. Thiem easily held in the next game to wrap up the match in one hour and 23 minutes.