Dominic Thiem: 'I tried to play more aggressive tennis but it didn't work out'

Tennis - The Austrian lost in the quarter-final of Rio de Janeiro to Gianluca Mager, player ranked outside the top-100

by Jovica Ilic
Dominic Thiem: 'I tried to play more aggressive tennis but it didn't work out'

World no. 4 Dominic Thiem will have to wait until March to move in front of Roger Federer and crack the top-3 for the first time, losing in the quarter-final of Rio de Janeiro to a qualifier Gianluca Mager 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 55 minutes, staying 85 points behind the Swiss on the ATP list.

Two-time Roland Garros finalist was far from his best this week, struggling with a small knee injury and some forearm issues to stay away from his A-game, prevailing over Felipe Meligeni and Jaume Munar to reach the quarters somehow and moving a win away from a career-high ranking.

Nonetheless, Mager emerged at the top after two days due to rain delays, prevailing in the crucial moments of both sets to find himself in the first ATP semi-final, heading to Rio de Janeiro with two ATP triumphs under his belt!

Serving at 77%, the Italian fended off five out of seven break chances and earned three breaks to cross the finish list first and reach the last four after hitting 35 winners and 27 unforced errors. Ready to challenge the better-ranked opponent, Gianluca broke Dominic for a 3-1 lead on Friday, forging the advantage that Thiem erased with a break at love in game seven, with both players serving well to set up a tie break that the Italian won 7-4 after two mini-breaks.

The dark horse grabbed another break in the third game of the second set when they had to stop due to rain, not being able to resume the clash on Friday and getting back on Saturday for more exciting action. Thiem saved a break chance in game seven with a service winner but couldn't create any advantage on the return until game ten when Mager served for the win.

The nerves started to show up and the Austrian grabbed the break that kept him alive, gaining much-needed momentum that gave him nothing after all, with Gianluca placing a forehand winner for another break in game 11, serving for the win for the second time.

Ready to avoid the same mistakes, the Italian landed an ace for a hold at 15 that propelled him into the semis, leaving Thiem empty-handed in his first ATP tournament on clay in 2020. "I did not play my best tennis this week despite trying everything," Thiem said.

"Unfortunately, I did not deserve to win; Gianluca was a better player and I have to give all credit to him. I had to change something in comparison to Friday. I felt I was all the time in defense, with not enough power in my strokes. I tried to play more aggressive, serve and volley, more slices, but it did not work out."

Dominic Thiem Gianluca Mager