Dominic Thiem Beats Defending Finalist Kevin Anderson to Reach First US Open Quarterfinal Against Rafael Nadal
(September 2, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Dominic Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at the US Open on Sunday when he beat last year’s finalist No.5 seed Kevin Anderson 7-6, 6-2, 7-6(2). It was only his second win against the South African. His only other win came on clay.
The Austrian has now reached the “elite 8” of majors four times – the other three coming at the French Open on his favorite surface – clay. This will be his first major hard court quarterfinal.
“I was pretty close last year. It was very painful,” said Thiem who lost a five-set match to Juan Martin del Potro in the third round last year, when he lead two sets and a break.
“So I’m happy that I made it, and it was an amazing victory over one of the best players right now. Also first time quarterfinals outside Paris, but most of all, I’m happy with the performance.”
Thiem talked about his keys to success during the match: “First of all, I served really, really well today. Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn’t face one break point, and I didn’t feel so much pressure on service games.
“So it was a little bit easier to play the return games. I could change my return position, and this helped me a lot. And also the court, I think, made a big difference. It’s a huge court. I could go very far back like I do on clay usually.
“So there were some good advantages for me today.”
“I definitely felt he played a great match,” said last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson. “He made life pretty difficult for me. I thought he defended amazingly.”
“I think a lot of success I have had in the past is I have been able to work points, find the right time to come forward. Still had a pretty good success rate coming forward today, but there were pockets where he had some unbelievable passing shots, made me hit another ball. That made things pretty tough.
“Obviously not creating any break points also made life difficult for me. Just over time when someone is holding serve easily and the other person is creating, not always break points, but just getting to the other service game. You know, it makes life tough.
“I think overall I didn’t feel like I played poorly today. I think I did quite a few things well. Hat off to him. I thought he really stepped up. He was definitely the better player today.”
Thiem has been fiddling with his court positions during matches and changed things up against Anderson.
“I played him three years ago on Court 17, which didn’t allow me to go that far back. It helped me a lot. I also did the same in Madrid. It worked out, so I thought why not on hard court? It worked out.
“I mean, of course I also played really safe from the baseline, which is also a big part of the performance today. But against him, still, the most important is to put as many balls back into play as possible.”
Thiem hit 42 winners to just 13 unforced errors in the two-hour and 37-minute match. He was 3 for 9 on break points.
Thiem was asked about his earliest memories of Rafael Nadal, since he will most likely play him in the quarterfinals.
“The earliest memories I think was when he beat Roger(Federer) in the French semis in 2005. I was 11 back then. Didn’t really think that I would also play him one day, but it’s very nice,” Theim said.
“We have already played nine times now, but was all the time on clay. Well, he lost the third, so we are not sure yet. But if he wins, then it’s going to be the first time on hard court which is a completely new experience.”
“I’m really looking forward, if he wins, to play him on hard court for the first time,” said the 24-year-old Austrian. “On clay, I think it’s one of the biggest challenges in sports to beat this guy or to compete with this guy. I hope that it’s a little bit more comfortable on hard court, but I’m not sure.”
Thiem has become the first Austrian since Tomas Muster in 1996 to reach the final 8 at the US Open.
Thiem will play Nadal, as the 17-time major champion.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal defeated Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili to open day session on Arthur Ashe stadium on Sunday. The world No. 1 won 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 to reach the eighth US Open quarterfinal of his career. He is now 36-6 in major tournament fourth round matches. The 32-year-old Spaniard is 44-3 on the year.
Thiem is 3-7 against Nadal.
The match will be a re-mach of the 2018 French Open final, when Nadal dominated Thiem in straight sets.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Nadal said of Thiem. “He’s a very powerful player. He’s a great guy. Very good relationship with him. Happy for him that he’s in quarterfinals here. Last year he lost a very tough match against Del Potro here.
“Yeah, in some way he deserve to be where he is. Gonna be a tough one. He’s very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kind of matches. Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament.”
It will be the first time that Thiem and Nadal will meet on a hard court.
“Is a different kind of match than clay, but is still a tennis match,” said the 17-time major winner. “Is different thing, but in some way, I know how he plays. He know how I am playing. Gonna be interesting one, tough one, hopefully for both of us. And hopefully who will play better, will have better chance.”
John Isner has reached his first US Open quarterfinal since 2011 with a five-set win over Milos Raonic.
Isner is having a career year, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon and winning his first masters in Miami. Says he owes to becoming better mentally.
“I feel very mentally tough. I think this year, since Miami of course, I really turned a corner there. There are some matches I’ve played where I only just rely on my serve. But I think more times than not this year I’ve shown some other ability. That comes from just being relaxed on the court. It’s not a product of more reps and more practice. The mental part of the game, being able to free up on the tennis court is much easier said than done. I’ve been able to, for the most part this year, do a pretty good job of that.
“In the past, that’s what’s held me back.”
“It’s been flowing naturally since Miami. After Wimbledon, that was very tough. I was beat up mentally and physically from that match. It was also a very good result for me. Even though it was tough to lose that match in the fashion that I did, it was still a very encouraging result. I took a lot of positives from that tournament.
“I think I carried that on into this summer. I won Atlanta again. I think after that I got pretty tired, though. It showed in the subsequent tournaments: Washington, Toronto and Cincy. I think losing early in Cincy was a big blessing in disguise. You always have to try to find the silver lining in things. The silver lining was that I got back home to Dallas, I had nine or 10 days to regroup and rest, continue to train, get ready for this event.
“I got up here on Thursday, feeling fresh physically and mentally. That’s been a big key as to why I’ve played well so far at this tournament.”
The top American male player at 33-years-old is leading the tournament in aces with 112. He is also expecting his first child with his wife around September 22.
“On the 22nd. It’s the 2nd right now. I’ve been talking to mothers a lot, asking them, especially on their first kid, and I’ve heard anywhere from a month early to three weeks late or anywhere in between.
“Again, cannot control that. That’s definitely the most important thing going on right now in my life, more important than this tournament. But as long as that baby is still in her belly, I’ll be here.”
Isner will play Juan Martin del Potro who beat Borna Coric in straight sets in the evening match.
Del Potro talked about how much he loves the US Open, his favorite tournament:
“Well, I love to play with this energy from the crowd, from the people. They make me feel special to play my best tennis every year. I reach another quarterfinals in my favorite tournament, which is something special to me.
“Hopefully keep playing in the same level to go far. But it will be a good challenge for both in the next round with John. I don’t know what could happen in that match.”