Thiem hum­bled by ‘best vic­tory’ against Mur­ray

Aus­trian hon­oured to be able to face Nadal in the fi­nal

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Do­minic Thiem claimed his first win over world No 1 Andy Mur­ray to book his place in the fi­nal of the Barcelona Open yes­ter­day as he tri­umphed 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

The Aus­trian will face Rafael Nadal, who is look­ing for his 10th ti­tle in Barcelona, in to­day’s fi­nal after the Spa­niard de­feated Ar­gentina’s Ho­ra­cio Ze­bal­los 6-3, 6-4.

Mur­ray squeezed past Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las in a three­hour en­counter on Fri­day and looked flat-footed as Thiem roared through the open­ing set with three breaks of serve in just over half an hour.

The Scot had to stave off an­other break point in a marathon open­ing game to the sec­ond set. But he held on and then jumped at his chance to break for 5-3 be­fore serv­ing out to take the match to a de­cider.

Thiem had to bat­tle back from a break down in the third set, but con­stantly put pres­sure on Mur­ray’s serve and broke the world No 1 an­other three times in the de­cid­ing set to seal his place in the fi­nal.

“It’s the first win [over a world No 1], so it’s re­ally some­thing spe­cial,” Thiem said.

“But it’s also the first win over a top-10 guy this sea­son. There are many pos­i­tive things to take from to­day’s match.”

It was not just the fact he had pre­vailed over Mur­ray that pleased Thiem, but the man­ner of the suc­cess as well.

“For me per­son­ally, it’s the best vic­tory this year so far,” the world No 9 said. “I went down in the third set when he broke me in the first game.

“But the way I came back men­tally was a huge step for­ward to­day.”

On fac­ing Nadal, who is look­ing to win a sec­ond suc­ces­sive tour­na­ment after pre­vail­ing in Monte Carlo last Sun­day, Thiem said: “It would be a big hon­our to play the nine-time cham­pion here to­mor­row.

“To get two matches in a row against two of the best play­ers ever is big for my game.”

Mur­ray said he had strug­gled to adapt to the windy con­di­tions in Barcelona and at­trib­uted some of his con­sis­tent play to that.

“In the first set, I didn’t have many chances, but I started to play bet­ter in the sec­ond,” the three-time ma­jor win­ner said.

“It was quite windy out there and dif­fi­cult to get into a rhythm. He started to hit the ball pretty hard and was push­ing me back.

“When the con­di­tions are like that, it’s im­por­tant to be the one dic­tat­ing the points. I started to do a bet­ter job of that, but in that last game I missed a cou­ple of shots I shouldn’t have.”

Nadal is yet to lose a set this week, and he con­tin­ued his dom­i­nant form on clay against the world No 84 Ze­bal­los.

The third seed did not have it all his own way though against his Ar­gen­tine op­po­nent, hav­ing to save three break points in the first set on his way to win­ning it 6-3 with a sin­gle break of serve.

A soli­tary break in the sec­ond set proved enough for Nadal to reach his fifth fi­nal in 2017 and he will to­day aim to win his 51st ti­tle on clay.

Alex Ca­parros / Getty Im­ages

Do­minic Thiem broke Andy Mur­ray’s serve three times in the third set to seal his place in the fi­nal.

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