The Austrian learned the lessons from his final losses to Nadal at the recent Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Mutua Madrid Open with a 6-4, 6-3 quarter-final victory in one hour and 51 minutes. It ended Nadal’s 17-match winning streak on red dirt, which included three straight clay crowns.
“I came in with a very aggressive game style, because I knew that if I wanted to have a chance, then I would have to do something different and be more aggressive,” said Thiem.
Watch Thiem Hot Shot
“I knew that if it goes in, everything, maybe I have a chance. If not, maybe I also lose easy. But today was one of these days where I really felt the ball great on the racquet, and a lot of risky shots went in.
“It was a very, very good performance and I think probably one of my best matches.”
Thiem, with a 17-3 record on clay this year, will now look to reach his fourth ATP World Tour title match of 2017 against either second seed and four-time champion Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro. He is 0-4 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Djokovic and 0-2 lifetime against del Potro.
“It’s a very tough situation in tennis. I mean, you have a big win, and the next day there is Djokovic or Del Potro waiting,” said Thiem. “It remains very, very difficult. But they are both unbelievable, big players. I think it’s going to be a tough match between them today. Whoever wins, I have to take on tomorrow.”
Eighth seed Thiem got off to a sensational start, with his depth of shot troubling Nadal and not permitting the seven-time champion any respite in baseline rallies. Dragging Nadal around the court with pace and power, Thiem broke Nadal in the first and fifth games.
Although the intensity of Thiem’s play naturally dipped, with errors creeping into his game as Nadal…