In what was the third meeting between them in twenty days, Dominic Thiem emerged third time lucky as he ended Rafael Nadal’s streak of seventeen consecutive wins after a 6-4, 6-3 upset win in the quarter finals of the Rome Masters Series at the Foro Italico.
Nadal had beaten the 23 year Austrian in the finals of the ATP 500 event in Barcelona and also in the finals of the Madrid Masters, apart from lifting a record tenth title in Monte Carlo, fought gallantly but succumbed to the heavy ground strokes of Thiem who now awaits the winner of the rain interrupted encounter between the second seeded Novak Djokovic and the unseeded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro. The match was suspended with Del Potro leading 2-1 in the second set after Djokovic reeled of six consecutive games to take the first set 6-1.
Thiem was off to a flying start as he established a 5-1 lead in the first only for the Mallorcan to launch a comeback as he reduced the deficit to 5-4. Thiem was not be denied as he held serve to claimed the opening set 6-4. In the second set Nadal saved two break points in the fifth game and games went with serve till the seventh game when Thiem finally broke through.
The eighth seeded Austrian saved three break points in the second set but was spared the need to serve out the match as he broke again in the ninth game to finally seal the match in one hour and fifty one minutes.
In the match played in the night session, Del Potro broke serve in the opening game but Djokovic took the next six games to win the opening set 6-1. The match was suspended with Del Potro leading 2-1 in the second set.
In the other semi final, the German Alexander Zverev will face the unseeded John Isner. The sixteenth seeded Zverev upset the fifth seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6(4),6-1 in under ninety minutes. There were two breaks of serves for each player in the first set, while in the second set Zverev would break twice to clinch the set 6-1.
Isner claimed two all important tie breaks between loosing the second set 2-6 in his two hour thirty eight minute match which he won 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(2). It was Isner’s second win in eight meetings against the 2014 U.S. Open champion Cilic. Isner had 21 aces while Cilic served only eight.
The following is the line up in the semi final with my pick mentioned first:-
Alexander Zverev (16) (25-9) v. John Isner (-) (13-8) ; Zverev leads 2-0.
Dominic Thiem (8) (29-11) v. winner of Novak Djokovic (2) (19-5) / Juan Martin Del Potro (-) (10-4). Djokovic leads Thiem 4-0, Del Potro leads Thiem 2-0.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]