After committing himself for the home ATP 250 event in Kitzbuhel for 2019 and 2020, world no. 5 Dominic Thiem has done the same with Hamburg Open, leading the field in the next two editions at the Rothenbaum Tennis Center. Roland Garros finalist has been one of the best players on clay in the last five years or so, winning eight titles and 115 matches on the slowest surface so far, hoping for more success in Monte Carlo next week and other tournaments during the spring clay-court swing.
In July, Dominic will hit clay again in Hamburg and Kitzbuhel, hoping for the better result at Hamburg Open than in 2014 and 2018 when he failed to reach the semi-final. The 113th edition of one of the world's oldest tournaments will take place between July 22-28 and Thiem is the first confirmed player, with tournament director Sandra Reichel knowing the Austrian for years, also being tournament director in Linz where Dominic attended his girlfriend's matches last year.
Twelve months ago, Dominic lost to Nicolas Jarry 7-6, 7-6 in an hour and 57 minutes, wasting a 5-3 advantage in the opening set and three set points at 6-3 in the second set tie break to hit the exit door. As the result suggests, nothing could separate the rivals and they both won 91 points and scored three breaks.
Dominic was the better player on the court in the first eight games, securing a break in game three and serving for the set at 5-4. Nicolas broke back in the very last moment to level the score at 5-5 and set up a tie break where Thiem forged a 5-2 lead.
Out of sudden, the Chilean claimed the next five points to steal the set 7-6 and gain massive momentum before the rest of the encounter. The second set kicked off with four straight breaks and they both served well in the remaining eight games to set up another tie break, a must-win one for Thiem.
Just like in the first one, he opened a handful 6-3 lead but three set points were not enough to push him over the top, with Jarry winning four points in a row to take the advantage, sealing the deal with another mini-break in the 16th point for a great triumph and a place in the last four.
"It is great for the tournament that a world-class competitor like Dominic Thiem signed to play Hamburg in the next two years," said the new tournament director Sandra Reichel. "There's nothing better for tennis than having someone like 'Domi' in the draw, not only one of the complete players on the Tour but also very disciplined and humbled one, a real role model for the youngsters."
"Hamburg is an absolute classic. It has 125 years of history and that tells everything about this event. There have been legendary five-set battles in Hamburg in the past and all the tennis legends have played there: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg and Gustavo Kuerten. The city of Hamburg is beautiful anyway, with life on the Alster river being exceptionally vibrant," said Thiem.