Thiem beaten in Rio
Originally published on 24/02/18 00:00
The veteran Spaniard had shown little this season to suggest he could usurp the defending champion on his beloved clay, but he offered a timely of his outstanding quality.
Verdasco struggled to turn his dominance into something tangible during the opener, however his perseverance was finally rewarded in the ninth game.
Thiem had successfully fended off nine break-points – but he could not save a 10th. A wayward forehand from the Austrian gave his opponent a precious 5-4 advantage, and that was all the Spaniard required to move halfway towards a first Top 10 victory of the season.
Thiem had been under the cosh throughout an intense 60-minute first set, and he was barely competitive in the second. The 24-year-old won just three more points on serve as his rival overpowered him, and he was the unwanted recipient of a ‘bagel’.
Thiem, who enjoyed a title-winning run in Buenos Aires last week, will now turn his attention to hard-courts after a brief dabble on clay. He is scheduled to be involved in the Acapulco Open, which begins on Monday.
Verdasco will encounter either Fabio Fognini or Aljaz Bedene in the last four. The remaining semi-final will be contested between Nicolas Jarry and Diego Schwartzman.
At the ATP 250 event in Delray Beach, Denis Shapovalov appears to be back in form after a lacklustre start to the campaign. The teenager is into just his second main-tour semi-final thanks to a comfortable 7-5 6-4 triumph over Taylor Fritz.
The Canadian awaits the winner of the Hyeon Chung versus Frances Tiafoe tie. Steve Johnson will challenge Peter Gojowczyk in the other last four match.