© Argentina Open/Sergio Llamera

Dominic Thiem secures his fourth title in Buenos Aires.

Thiem Hangs On For Buenos Aires Title

Austrian rallies against Almagro

Dominic Thiem, the youngest player in the Top 20, came through in the clutch to defeat Nicolas Almagro 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4) and win the Argentina Open on Sunday. Thiem was down a break in the deciding set, but rallied strongly to notch his fourth ATP World Tour title in two hours and 28 minutes. Among players born in the 1990s, Thiem’s title total only trails that of Milos Raonic (8).

“It’s the best of my titles so far because the tournament draw was so strong,” Thiem, who is now 4-0 in deciding tie-breaks on the ATP World Tour, said. “You need a bit of luck to win these kinds of tournaments, but it’s probably been the best week of my career.

“You have to be aggressive against these great players. If you let them dictate, you’ll always be second best.”

Thiem, No. 19 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, claimed the title after winning four three-setters in Buenos Aires. He is establishing himself as one of the best young players on the ATP World Tour after saving a match point in defeating Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. He becomes the first man since Bernard Tomic (2014 Bogota) to win a title after winning third-set tie-breaks in both the semi-finals and final.

“All the players who play here have a lot of experience, [the pressure] is something you cannot simulate," Thiem added. "You just need to be in that situation to become strong mentally. I’m a bit older, more experienced. Even if you beat Nadal in the semis, you still want to win in the final. I didn’t think much about the victory yesterday and focused on the final today."

Almagro’s run to the final was the feel-good story of the week. The former World No. 9 had not tasted victory at a tour-level event since Nice 2012 (d. Baker), and overturned a 15-match losing streak to countryman David Ferrer in the semi-finals. The 30 year old fell to 12-10 in ATP World Tour finals, all on clay.

Neither players gave an inch from the baseline throughout the match, trading heavy forehands and attacking fearlessly with their one-handed backhands. Almagro went ahead 2-0 in the deciding set, but saw Thiem fight back strongly to force a deciding tie-break. A cruel bounce off the let cord provided the Austrian with the critical mini-break. Minutes later, Thiem would fall to the court in celebration after seeing Almagro’s shot fly long.