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European Open: Thiem saves three MPs, topples Hurkacz to reach semis

Antwerp (Belgium), Oct 21 (IANS) Austrian Dominic Thiem on Friday produced an escape act of the highest order at the European Open, where he saved three match points to topple top seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 7-6(9), 7-6(4) and reach the semifinal, here.

Thiem saved those match points in a pulsating second-set tie-break, including one with a powerful backhand that crept over the net via a net cord at 5/6.

The former World No.3 then held his nerve to clinch the set and repeated the trick in the decider, surging to an unassailable 6/2 lead in the tie-break to claim his first win against Hurkacz in four ATP head-to-head meetings.

“This victory especially is unbelievable because it’s my first victory over an almost-Top 10 guy in my comeback process,” said Thiem, who returned to the Tour in March after missing nine months due to a wrist injury.

“It was unbelievable to play, a great atmosphere and a great match,” he added.

Despite his stroke of luck with the second-set net cord, Thiem kept a high level throughout the two-hour, 55-minute encounter. He struck 36 winners to Hurkacz’s 47, with his trademark backhand a particularly potent weapon.

“Indoors, especially against someone who is serving that great, it’s about little details and margins,” said Thiem.

“Today the luck was on my side on that match point. The match could easily have been gone, but it’s like that at the highest level and I’m very happy in general to even get to those close situations again. Today it went my way and I have to enjoy it,” he added.

Thiem’s next opponent will be Sebastian Korda, who wasted no time booking his semi-final spot with a 6-0, 6-2 triumph against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Korda converted five of six break-point opportunities to seal a 52-minute win and extend his indoor record for the season to 11-3.

–IANS

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