ATP Chengdu: Pella sends Thiem packing! Baghdatis, Lu and Fritz reach QF

Tennis - Dominic lost in the opening round of the ATP tournament for the 5th time this season

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Chengdu: Pella sends Thiem packing! Baghdatis, Lu and Fritz reach QF

World number 7 Dominic Thiem suffered his 5th first match exit at the ATP tournaments in 2017, losing to Guido Pella by 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes. Thiem enjoyed a great weekend in Prague at Laver Cup but he had enough time to fly to Chengdu and prepare himself better, but this obviously wasn't his day. Pella beat him in their only previous match in Rio De Janeiro last year and he managed to repeat that again, keeping his second serve safe and outplaying the Austrian from the baseline.

The Argentine won 20 out of 28 points behind his second serve and he fends off 3 out of 4 break points to keep his rival under constant pressure. Dominic served at only 56% and he struggled a lot on his second serve, having to play against 8 break points.

He saved 6 but it wasn't enough for a more positive result, even though he had a set point in the tie break. The Austrian opened the match with a break at 15 and he saved 2 break points in his first service game to take a 2-0 lead.

Pella broke back in game 4 and he repelled 2 break points in the next game, avoiding another setback and chasing the result. Both players served well until the end of the set to set up a tie break, where Thiem opened a 4-2 lead.

Guido took the mini-break back in the 7th point, he saved a set point at 5-6 and won the last 3 points of the set for an 8-6, which meant a lot to him before the rest of the encounter. Pella continued to serve well in set number 2, winning more points on his first serve, and he broke in the opening game to firmly grab the strings of the match.

Dominic saved 2 break points in the third game to at least stay in touch, and he had to serve to stay in the match in game 8, being 5-3 down. In one of the longest games of the match, he fends off 2 match points for a hold, forcing Pella to serve out for the victory.

That 10th game was also an interesting one, the Argentine wasted another pair of break points, he even had to defend a break point, but he remained focused and brought the win home on his 5th match point, for his second Top 10 victory in a career.

34-year-old Yen-Hsun Lu came to Chengdu with right shoulder problems, he hasn't been able to train a lot but it is so far so good for him after a commanding 6-2 6-1 victory over Andrey Rublev in just 53 minutes! Lu, who advanced to his first ATP quarter-final since Winston-Salem last year, lost just 11 points in 8 service games, saving 2 break points to keep his serve intact, and he was all over Rublev's serve in the entire match.

Andrey served at only 40% and that could bring him nothing but troubles, losing almost 50% of the points on his serve and facing 12 break points, getting broken 4 times. Russian opened the match with 2 commanding holds, looking good to continue where he left at the US Open (he reached the quarter-final), and he had a break point in game 3, unable to convert it.

Yen-Hsun stepped in the second part of the set, breaking youngster in games 6 and 8 to grab the set by 6-2, saving another break point in game 7. More experienced player cruised through his service games in the second set, dropping just 3 points to keep the pressure on Andrey, who never found his game or the necessary level to do something more in this match.

He lost the opening 3 games of the set, 7 in total from 2-2 in the first, and there was no coming back from there against a solid rival. Lu sealed the deal on his 5th break point in game 6 and he crossed the finish line with another easy hold in game 7, booking the place in the next round in under an hour.

Qualifier Taylor Fritz advanced to his 3rd ATP quarter-final in the last 4 events he played, taking down Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3 3-6 6-1 in an hour and 26 minutes. American teenager served at 70% and he fired 12 aces, saving 3 out of 5 break points.

Basilashvili struggled more in his service games, losing 43% of the points on serve and dropping serve 4 times from 8 chances he gave to Taylor, who was also more efficient from the baseline. Fritz kicked off the match in a strong fashion, with 3 easy holds and breaks in games 4 and 6, for a handful 5-1 advantage.

Nikoloz managed to pull one break back in game 7, reducing his deficit to 5-3, but Taylor didn't make the same mistake in game 9 when he held at 15 to grab the opener by 6-3. Georgian saved 2 break points in the third game of the second set and that sent the momentum to his side, as he won 4 out of the last 5 games for a 6-3.

Taylor played a loose service game in game 6 to get broken and he didn't have a chance to pull it back, as Nikoloz brought the set home on own serve in game 9. They went into a decider with similar chances but it was the American who shifted into a higher gear, dominating on both serve and return to cross the finish line first.

He lost just 5 points on serve and created 4 break points, converting 2 in games 2 and 4 to race into a 5-0 lead, finishing the match with a hold at love in game 7 for the place in the last 8. Second round results:



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