Thiem powers into first Australian Open quarter-final

andrew hendrie:

World No. 5 Dominic Thiem has advanced into his first Australian Open quarter-final after easing past 10th seed Gael Monfils in straight sets on Monday.

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Coming into the Australian Open last week, Thiem had lost two of his three ATP Cup matches and lost in the opening round of his last two slams at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open – and to add in an off-court distraction, he was involved in what reportedly looks like a less-than-friendly split with Thomas Muster, who he brought into his coaching team for the start of 2020.

But, after overcoming Australian wildcard Alex Bolt in five sets in the second round, Thiem has looked like a genuine title contender, winning eight of the last nine sets he’s played after conquering Taylor Fritz in the previous round.

Thiem improved his record over Monfils to a flawless 6-0 as he glided to a 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory in one hour and 50 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

It was his best match of the tournament, according to the man himself as Thiem talked to Jim Courier after the match.

“I think that I played my best match so far of this Australian Open. A very, very good feeling,” Thiem said.

“The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and then was managing to hold my serve well. I’m so happy because I’m for the first time in the quarter-finals here.”

Dominic Thiem shakes hands with Gael Monfils (AAP Image/Natasha Morello)

Thiem had never produced his best tennis in Melbourne, with a pair of fourth round finishes in 2017 and 2018 his best results from six main draw appearances.

However, after linking up with Nicolas Massu just before Indian Wells last year, Thiem has improved his hardcourt game considerably, winning his first Masters 1000 title at that very tournament in March before going on to collect 500-level silverware in Beijing and Vienna.

The 26-year-old ended 2019 by defeating Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London before losing in the final to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Into just his second hardcourt major quarter-final, Thiem faces the winner of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal or home favourite Nick Kyrgios for a place in the semi-finals.

“I couldn’t be happier to be done, to be in the quarter-finals and to watch that, relax from home. I’m also very excited for that match,” Thiem said.

“Obviously it’s going to be such an entertaining contest tonight and then also in two days, it doesn’t matter who I face. So I’m really excited to watch that match and may the better one win tonight.”