Thiem battles past Goffin for second UTS win
Saturday’s play from the Mouratoglou Academy in the South of France concluded with a match that promised a lot from two of the tournament’s best shot-makers, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem. Heading in, Thiem had a 1-1 record, having missed the opening weekend, whilst Goffin went 0-2 over the first weekend but then won his next two matches to even out his record. Only one could end the day with a positive record and it was Dominic Thiem, the world no. 3, who played the better tennis on the big points and won 15-10 16-10 13-11 14-16.
The match began evenly but a huge inside-out forehand from Thiem saw a small gap open at 6-4. He was unable to carry the momentum forward and at 8-6 up he sent a smash long when using his ‘x3 Winner’ card. The Austrian’s ‘-1 Serve’ card proved more effective as Goffin immediately “double” faulted but it took until the final two minutes for Thiem to improve upon his two-point cushion. Goffin failed to capitalise when using his ‘x3 Winner’ card in the dying stages and Thiem took the opener 15-10.
The second quarter was again a tight affair in the opening minutes as both players showed off their defensive capabilities. Thiem again found the first slight breakthrough to push ahead 7-5 after a gruelling rally which only ended when Goffin hit a relatively simple forehand into the net. Unperturbed, the Belgian immediately levelled the scores but then chose to ‘Steal Serve’ and lost them both in disappointing fashion. Thiem played his ‘x3 Winner’ card, found an ace, and all of a sudden he had a significant lead with little time left on the clock. Racing away with the quarter in the latter stages, Thiem came out of it the winner by a flattering score of 16-10.
The match continued to be a close fought affair with a number of lengthy rallies. Those in charge of scheduling were right to put the pair on at night rather than subject them to the scorching summer sunshine. The score was tied at 7-7 with less than four minutes to play and no cards used. Goffin, needing this quarter to stay in the match, played his ‘x3 Winner’ card and hit a double fault before putting a smash long to gift Thiem the advantage at this crucial stage. The Belgian clawed his way back into the quarter but the length of the rallies was his undoing and Thiem held on to take it 13-11 and guarantee that he would win the match.
Once more, the fourth quarter began with neither player able to seize an early advantage. At 5-5 Thiem played his ‘x3 Winner’ card and hit a laser-like forehand down the line to pass Goffin at the net and claim an ever-valuable three-pointer. Thanks in part to his ‘Steal Serve’ card, Goffin won the next five points to reclaim the lead but with two minutes remaining they were tied yet again, this time at 10-all. Even at this late stage the quality of play remained high and a late ace from Goffin whilst using his ‘x3 Winner’ card gave him a well-deserved consolation quarter, 16-14. Thiem improved to a 2-1 tournament record, whilst Goffin fell to 2-3, but both will have confidence heading into Sunday thanks to the quality of their play, assuming they recover fully from what was an intensely physical match-up.
In the evening’s first match, Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed the first win of the tournament from a position of having lost the first two quarters. The third went to a deciding point, which the Greek won to take it 13-12 and he won the fourth 16-11 to take the match to sudden death. It was indeed sudden, as Tsitsipas won it 2-0 to match Matteo Berrettini’s four tournament wins.
Sunday’s order of play is as follows (all times BST):
15:00 Moutet v Gasquet
16:15 Berrettini v Thiem
17:30 Brown v Goffin
— Break —
20:00 Paire v Lopez
21:15 Tsitsipas v Popyrin
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