Dominic Thiem has accomplished a lot in 2019: winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, reaching his second Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, triumphing in Barcelona for the first time and plenty more. And on Thursday, the World No. 4 moved to within two wins of capturing his maiden ATP Tour trophy at home in Austria.
Thiem defeated Spaniard Pablo Andujar 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 44 minutes to reach the semi-finals of the Generali Open in Kitzbühel. It is the third time the home favourite has made it this far at the ATP 250 tournament in his eighth appearance since it became a tour-level event in 2011.
The key was success on second serves, as Thiem won 61 per cent of his second-serve points, while Andujar only earned 35 per cent of his. The Austrian broke four times in the match, twice in each set.
The top seed now leads Andujar 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and he will next face seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego, who eliminated third seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 35 minutes.
Sonego, at 24, has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching his first Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and then earning his first ATP Tour crown at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya.
The Italian saved four of the five break points he faced against Verdasco, winning 82 per cent of his first-serve points against the Spaniard. Sonego needed a final-set tie-break in each of his first two matches, but he found some of his best tennis to advance to his second tour-level semi-final. He has never previously played Thiem.
#NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud continued his pursuit of a trip to the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 5-9 November, beating fourth seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour and 36 minutes.
Ruud has played just one match each on hard court and grass court this season, losing both, but the 20-year-old has shone on clay. The World No. 65 is now 17-7 on the surface in 2019, reaching his first ATP Tour final in Houston on the red dirt.
Ruud will try to make another championship match when he battles Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who moved past Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes. The Spaniard has rounded into form, winning 11 of his past 12 matches, including a title last week at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad.
Ramos-Vinolas has beaten Ruud in their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, which both came on clay. The lefty won all five sets they played.