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Thiem Saves 5 Match Points to Fight into Kitzbuhel Final

Dominic Thiem battled into his first final since 2020 on home soil in Kitzbuhel. Photo credit: Generali Open/@alexanderscheuber

The ball buzzed by a lunging Dominic Thiem and banged off the back wall putting him in a bleak match point bind.

Home crowd roars echoing in his ears, Thiem summoned another stirring stand to reach the final promised land.

A defiant Thiem denied five match points out-dueling Laslo Djere 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(8) to reach his first final since the 2020 ATP Finals on the red clay of his Kitzbuhel home tournament.

On a soggy Friday night, Kitzbuhel fans screamed support and Thiem tuned into the adrenaline, amped up the pace of his drives and pulled off the biggest comeback of his season saving all 12 break points he faced.

Firing one final forehand down the line, Thiem converted his second match point to close an epic three hour, 30-minute triumph in pure elation.

“I don’t know if I can still produce some good words. It was probably the longest best-of-three-set match I’ve ever played in my life, including when I was still a kid I think even then I didn’t play that long in a best-of-three match,” Thiem said afterward. “It was very tough and intense match, obviously, so close every single set, every single game. 

“I knew straight from the beginning it’s so close, already the first three games were 20, 25 minutes. But it was just incredible, the atmosphere again, so thank you so much.”

It was a pulsating comeback win for Thiem and a gut-wrenching loss for Djere, who put himself in position to prevail.

The tough-minded Djere has persevered through pain throughout his life—he lost both of his parents to cancer—and fought off both Thiem and the vocal crowd earning match points at 6-5 in the decider on the Austrian’s serve.

Wild card Thiem erased all three match points he faced at 5-6 to force the final tiebreaker.

Summoning the warrior within, Thiem saved two more match points in the breaker—at 5-6 and 6-7—to cap his comeback.

Djere will likely rue his first match point when he put a relatively routine forehand into net and his fourth match point at 6-5 when he had a good look at a mid-court forehand but swept it long to give Thiem new life.

The former world No. 3 whose career was sidetracked by a chronic wrist injury posted his third straight gritty comeback with a big assist from home fans.

Yesterday, Thiem thrilled home fans fighting past Arthur Rinderknech 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first semifinal of the season in Kitzbuhel. Prior to that win, Thiem dug down dip battling back from a blow-out opening set to take down China’s Zhizhen Zhang 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Tonight, Thiem drew energy from home fans again and showed guts dancing around his backhand to crush some timely forehands on pivotal points.

“[The crowd was] so good and I needed it,” Thiem said. “I needed the atmosphere and I needed the support today against Laslo, who is playing incredible at the moment, coming from a finals.

“And it’s very special today, it’s my first finals on the tour since my wrist injury and I couldn’t be happier that it’s here in Austria as well.”

World No. 116 Thiem, who arrived in Kitzbuhel with an unsightly 9-17 record on the season, will play for his first title since he rallied to win the 2020 US Open crown tomorrow. This final return has vaulted Thiem back into the Top 100 at No. 89 in the ATP Live Rankings.

The 2019 Kitzbuhel champion Thiem will face Sebastian Baez in tomorrow’s final.

Earlier, world No. 72 Baez toppled top-seeded Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4, in an all-Argentinean semifinal.