Heading to Barcelona with only nine ATP wins under his belt in 2019 (five at Indian Wells where he claimed the first Masters 1000 crown), Dominic Thiem was determined to boost his clay-court game once again before Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
The 3rd seed and a former finalist did that in style, ousting Diego Schwartzman, Jaume Munar and Guido Pella for the place in the semis where he dethroned Rafael Nadal to advance into the 20th ATP final. There, Thiem needed just 73 minutes to dismiss injured Daniil Medvedev (shoulder pain) 6-4, 6-0 and conquer the 13th ATP crown and the first since St.
Petersburg last year. Playing in the 33rd match of the season, Medvedev had a chance to fight for the first ATP title on clay (semi-final in Monte Carlo last week) but he had nothing left in the tank after a hard-fought win over Nishikori yesterday, struggling with a right shoulder injury and dropping 12 of the last 13 games to send Dominic over the top.
The Russian landed only 51% of the first serve in, losing almost 60% of the points behind the initial shot and suffering five breaks from eight chances offered to the Austrian who had to defend only three break points in the second game of the match.
Daniil managed to grab the break and opened a 3-0 lead when Thiem sent a slice into the net, settling into a nice rhythm and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. Motivated after that thrilling win over Rafael Nadal, Dominic broke back at love in game five after a forehand error from the Russian who wasted a 40-0 lead at 3-3 to get broken once again to move Thiem ahead, having to save a set point at 5-3.
Medvedev did that but the set was out of his reach now, with the Austrian sealing the first part of the match with a forehand winner in game ten. Receiving a medical timeout before this final game, Daniil was miles off his best tennis and stood no chance in set number two, allowing Thiem to claim 24 out of 29 points and race over the finish line in some 22 minutes after a volley winner at 5-0.
"I didn't lose the advantage because of my shoulder, I just felt quite painful when he was already 5-3 up. I called for the physio, he helped me and I didn't feel pain after that. The real change was in the fact that he started to spray a fewer number of errors and I didn't adapt myself to that.
It was too late after that, he took the momentum and I started to miss the shots that I shouldn't miss, there was no way back for me. His slice worked very well as I couldn't impose my shots and he was there to punish me after every short ball or a bad stroke, tactically he did everything right on the court.
I could have changed something, maybe be a little bit more aggressive, especially on my first shots after the serve, but it is always tough, even when you are 3-0 in front. I didn't feel that change in momentum and it was too late for me later in the match.
I feel more comfortable on my backhand wing but that didn't hurt him either today, I should have tried to go with more inside-out forehands on his slice. I had an amazing two weeks on clay, when I was junior I played well on this surface but I had a lot of problems to deliver good results on in in the last two years.
This year I'm feeling good and my game on clay can cause troubles to many players, I will try to keep this momentum for the upcoming big tournaments and I hope I can do well there. Igor Andreev is there to tell me his point of view before after the matches and we have been working well so far."