Thiem Builds Momentum At Indian Wells
23-year-old Thiem advances to fourth round in the desert
The Austrian nullified Zverev’s serve-and-volley tactics as he advanced in just under an hour. Thiem was denied five match points in the ninth game of the second set, but served out victory to love in the following game.
“He's a very tricky opponent, it's really different to play against him. You cannot really prepare, but I had a very good start,” said Thiem. “In general, I returned very well, probably better than I expected myself. It's very important the first two shots against him, return, and then the second, because he's covering the net really, really well.
“You have to have good placement and a good pace. That's what I was able to do today. It was a very good performance from the first to the last point.”
After a stunning run to the Australian Open quarter-finals, where he defeated Andy Murray before falling to Roger Federer, Zverev had endured four straight losses before beating Joao Sousa in his opening match in the desert.
The 23-year-old Thiem advances to a clash with Gael Monfils or John Isner as he looks to reach the quarter-finals at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for the first time. He bowed out in the round of 16 last year against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Frustrated by his form at the start of the season, Thiem started to get back on track last month as he won his eighth ATP World Tour title on clay in Rio de Janeiro. The right-hander is coming off a career-best year in 2016, which saw him qualify for the ATP Finals in London for the first time.
Lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka recorded a remarkable comeback against 13th seed Tomas Berdych, saving one match point as he rallied from a 6-1, 5-2 deficit to beat the Czech 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes.
“Down 2-5, I tried to find a way, and then I think he give me [some] chances. So I found a way, and then just kept trying every point,” Nishioka said. “My body felt like I cannot move, but I just stayed focused and tried to fight.”
Berdych held match point on Nishioka’s serve in the 10th game of the second set, before the Japanese rallied to level the match in a tie-break. The duo traded breaks at the start of the third set before Nishioka broke for a 2-1 lead and did not look back. Berdych saved match point in the ninth game, but the 21-year-old Nishioka successfully served out to love in the following game.
Two days after ousting World No. 1 Andy Murray, Vasek Pospisil’s run in Indian Wells came to an end as he fell to fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic, 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 28 minutes. Pospisil served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, was broken to love, and then squandered a match point in the 10th game before Lajovic prevailed, winning the last four games of the match.
World No. 106 Lajovic will face Pablo Carreno Busta, who earned a free pass into the fourth round as Roberto Bautista Agut was forced to withdraw ahead of their contest due to an abdominal muscle injury.