Ruthless Thiem Streaks To Buenos Aires Title
If Dominic Thiem's start to the Latin American Golden Swing is any indication of his 2018 form, the rest of the ATP World Tour better take notice. The Austrian blasted to the title at the Argentina Open, not dropping a set all week in notching the clay-court title.
Thiem dominated Sunday's final, downing Aljaz Bedene 6-2, 6-4 in one hour and 31 minutes. He extended his perfect mark in Buenos Aires to 9-0, having previously won the title in 2016, and lifted his ninth ATP World Tour trophy in total. It was his first crown in nearly a year, since triumphing in nearby Rio de Janeiro last February.
Thiem's victory puts him in elite company, becoming just the third player in the last 30 years to win multiple titles in the Argentine capital. The World No. 6 joins Spaniards David Ferrer (2012-14) and Carlos Moya (1995, '03, '06) in the exclusive club.
"When you win a tournament it's good news, because we're used to losing more than winning," said Thiem. "With these conditions - slow and hot - there are many chances for me to play well. It was my goal before starting the week and it is incredible to have achieved it.
"I love playing on clay. Last year, I played indoors in Europe and they are nice tournaments too but here I have a better time. I wanted to win the title and any other result would not have been good. It had almost been a year since my last title, so it was time for me to do it again."
Thiem and Bedene took to Estadio Guillermo Vilas on a searing hot Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires. Much like he did all week in scoring convincing wins over Horacio Zeballos, Guido Pella and Gael Monfils, the Austrian was on the front foot throughout the encounter.
Thiem saved a break point in the third game of the opener and would secure his first lead of the match in the next game, as a Bedene backhand sailed wide. Another break saw him surge ahead for 5-2 and he closed out the first set with an unreturned serve after just 35 minutes.
Bedene did well to remain focused as the second set got underway, turning aside four break points in his first service game. But an error-strewn service game at 4-4 proved costly, as Thiem grabbed the decisive break to serve for the championship. Seeking his first ATP World Tour title, Bedene did his best to fight off his opponent in the final game, saving two match points with deep returns. But Thiem would seize his third chance to close it out, raising his arms in victory after an hour and a half.
"It was a great week for me," said Bedene. "Domi played at a great level and is the deserved champion. I hope to win my first title at some point."
Thiem improved to 3-0 in FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, scoring his second victory over Bedene this year. He prevailed in the second round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha to open the season, as well.
Seeded first this week, Thiem earns $101,360 in prize money and 250 ATP Rankings points. Bedene, meanwhile, takes home $53,385 and 150 ATP Rankings points, rising eight spots to a projected career-high of No. 43 on Monday. He was seeking his maiden title in his third final, having previously finished runner-up in Chennai in 2015 (l. to Wawrinka) and in Budapest last year (l. to Pouille).
Did You Know?
In the off-season, Thiem and Bedene jumped from the tennis court to the football pitch for a competitive match. The pair squared off in Bedene's native Slovenia.