‘Unbelievable’ Thiem shocks Wawrinka in Mutua Madrid Open
Originally published on 07/05/14
The Australian Open champion looked to be on course for a comfortable victory against the 20-year-old after wrapping up the first set 6-1.
But Thiem, the youngest player in the top 100, hit back to win the next two sets 6-2 6-4 and record the biggest win of his career.
“I cannot really believe it," he admitted. "I was in this famous zone during the match. I was unbelievably concentrated. I think that's how you can play these very good matches, if you are 100 per cent concentrated and 100 per cent out on the court.
"Of course I was a little bit nervous, but it wasn't the reason for the first set, his pace was just too high for me. I played a good game in the beginning of the second set to break him, and then I started to get more and more used to his pace and angles and his game, [which is] probably one of the best men's tennis has at the moment. Also, I played unbelievable in the second and the third set."
Thiem, 20, has come through qualifying seven times this season and has risen from 139 in the world to a career-high 70.
“He's a good player, we all know that,” acknowledged Wawrinka. “We all see that, especially since the beginning of the year. I'm not surprised because I know him."
The win makes Thiem the youngest player to beat a top-three opponent since Juan Martin del Potro upset Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the 2009 US Open.
He will now face either Mikhail Youzhny or Feliciano Lopez for a place in the quarter-finals.
"This year I've played very good so far and also very consistently," said Thiem. "I made seven out of eight qualies, and the quali matches, they help a lot. I get used to the level of the top 100 guys, and I think I've already had 35 matches this year. That's the most important thing, to play almost every day against these top guys to increase your own level."
Another qualifier, Igor Sijsling, also pulled off an upset in the second round as he came from a set down to beat 14th seed Tommy Haas 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Tennishead columnist Mats Merkel, who works with Thiem as part of the adidas Player Development Program, singled out the Austrian as one of his players to watch this clay court season. To read his column in full, get your hands on a copy of Volume 5 Issue 2.