Friendly fire: Thiem survives emotional roller-coaster in Rotterdam against Zverev
By Ricky Dimon
Dominic Thiem picked up a much-needed win at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament when he overcame Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 during first-round action on Wednesday night. Thiem, who is still just 6-4 this season, took down the recent Montpellier champion after one hour and 44 minutes.
“He’s one of the best players in the world right now,” the 23-year-old Austrian said of his good friend Zverev. “He played an amazing match at the Australian Open against [Rafael Nadal] (and) just won his second title in Montpellier, so it was a horrible draw for me.”
It certainly looked that way in the early stages. Thiem lost the first four games of the match before sinking his teeth into late in the opening set. Although the No. 2 seed dropped the opener, a few victorious games under his belt set the stage for a comeback over the final two sets.
“Even though I was 0-4 down, I felt pretty good from the start of the match,” Thiem reflected. “I was hitting my returns well; used my slice smartly. Overall it was my best performance in a long time. For my confidence this is exactly what I needed–a very good match against a really, really good player.”
Speaking of really good, Grigor Dimitrov improved to 15-1 on the season by scraping past Mischa Zverev 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday afternoon. Coming off his second title of 2017 in Sofia, Dimitrov advanced after one hour and 54 minutes.
“I think it’s always difficult when you change your whole atmosphere, with a different court, different balls, which didn’t make it any easier today,” the 12th-ranked Bulgarian explained. “I just had to keep on playing and fighting at the level I thought I could do. I’m very pleased to get another win. There were a lot of obstacles out there and I think I handled it pretty well.
“It’s another week now; another challenge and another opportunity to win. All eyes on that and focusing ahead.”
Immediately ahead for Dimitrov is a Thursday date with Denis Istomin, now famous for upsetting Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. Thiem, meanwhile, will continue his Rotterdam campaign against Gilles Simon.