Barcelona Open: Dominic Thiem stuns Andy Murray, faces Rafael Nadal in final
Fourth seed Dominic Thiem sent the World No. 1 Andy Murray packing from the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell with an inspired performance in the semi-finals on Saturday. The Austrian came back from a break down in the deciding set to win the match, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and advance to his first final in the Catalan capital.
In the summit clash, he will be locking horns with the nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, who is now on a nine-match winning streak after clinching a record-extending tenth Monte Carlo Masters title last Sunday. The Spanish southpaw is now seeking to complete the second part of his Triple Decima quest after overpowering the 84th ranked Horacio Zeballos, 6-3, 6-4.
Murray, who recently recovered from an elbow injury, had struggled to win his quarter-final match against the 10th seeded Albert Ramos Vinolas on Friday. The Spaniard even served for the match before the Scot found a second gear to come back for the win.
However, the 2016 French Open runner-up failed to emulate the feat this time around against the ninth-ranked Thiem despite having a 2-0 head-to-head record against his younger rival prior to this showdown.
After being pummelled by an aggressive Thiem in the first set, the three-time Grand Slam champion finally asserted himself in the second set when the Austrian failed to capitalise on an early break point opportunity.
The momentum was with the higher-ranked player as he made in-roads into Thiem’s serve to gain an advantage in the third set. But an out-of-sorts Murray could not hold on to it. Sloppy play and a fired-up Thiem soon saw the Briton surrendering a break on a double fault that would send the Austrian 4-2 up.
It was, however, not the end of the story for Murray came storming back immediately to reclaim the break. However, while serving to stay in the match, a wild forehand gifted Thiem a match point. The Austrian did not waste the opportunity and took the match with a beautiful lob.
Nadal saves five break points to progress
Rafael Nadal’s ability to save all five of the break points that he faced made the difference in his semi-final against Horacio Zeballos. The only time that the Argentine put up some resistance was when he had three opportunities to break the feisty Spaniard’s serve as the latter served for the first set.
Zeballos once again fluffed his chances early on in the second after his lefty single-handed backhands and their wide swing troubled his higher accomplished opponent.
That invigorated Nadal who banked on a solitary break of serve to seal the win in 1 hour 34 minutes.
The two players shared a nice moment on the court when the Argentine took a selfie with the Spanish legend right after the match.