ATP Kitzbuhel: Dominic Thiem battles past Andujar. Sonego and Ruud advance

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ATP Kitzbuhel: Dominic Thiem battles past Andujar. Sonego and Ruud advance

The home favorite and the top seed Dominic Thiem has stayed on the course for the first title in Austria, beating Pablo Andujar 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes for the sixth ATP semi-final of the season. Thiem made the difference with the second serve, suffering three breaks and delivering four from six opportunities to close a tight battle in straight sets.

The Spaniard broke in the very first game of the match after a backhand error from Thiem who pulled the break back in game four to level the score at 2-2. They traded more breaks in games five and six and stayed neck and neck until the tie break that Dominic grabbed 7-4 with three mini-breaks and a double fault from Pablo in the 11th point, 61 minutes since the beginning of the clash.

Andujar broke in game two of the second set when Thiem hit a double fault but his lead was a short-lived one, allowing the home star to erase the deficit with a smash winner in game five and return to the positive side of the scoreboard.

From 4-3 down, Dominic took three straight games that carried him over the top, scoring a break in the ninth game following a loose forehand from Andujar and advancing into the quarter-final when his rival netted a forehand in the next game.

The 7seed Lorenzo Sonego had to save match points against Federico Delbonis and another one versus Roberto Carballes Baena to reach the quarters where he had a more quiet day at the office, taking down the 3rd seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 34 minutes for the second ATP semi-final in 2019.

Sonego lost just 14 points in ten service games, fending off four out of five break points and stealing Verdasco's serve thrice to move over the top without spending too much time on the court. They traded breaks in games three and four, serving well in the remaining ones until 5-4 for Sonego who broke Verdasco in the best possible moment for a 6-4.

Returners had their opportunities in the middle games of the second set, wasting them all before Lorenzo grabbed a break at 5-4 to overcome the more experienced opponent and stay on the title course. The 20-year-old Casper Ruud will compete in the third semi-final of the season, defeating the 4th seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 36 minutes after a great performance behind the initial shot.

Casper had to play against only one break point, giving serve away and delivering two breaks on the other hand to control the scoreboard and seal the deal in the second set tie break. The first set was decided in the sixth game when Ruud broke for a 4-2 lead after a loose forehand from the Uruguayan, closing the set with three winners in game nine for a 6-3.

The youngster broke at the beginning of the second set, staying in front until game eight when Cuevas broke back with a backhand winner, securing the tie break that Casper won 7-4 with a service winner to book the spot in the last four.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas is on a trail for another ATP title after Gstaad, taking down Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 in 74 minutes, facing only one break point and keeping the pressure on the Frenchman with three successful return games from seven chances.

The Spaniard claimed the opening set with a service winner at 5-3 and broke Chardy at love at 3-3 in set number two after a double fault from the French player, holding at 30 in game ten to move over the top and join Thiem, Sonego and Ruud in the semis.