STUTTGART, June 11, 2016
Dominic Thiem and Philipp Kohlschreiber will compete in Sunday’s final of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. This was the outcome of a long and rain interrupted semi-finals day at the Tennis Club Weissenhof.
Thiem fought past Roger Federer, rallying 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. After the top-seed had taken the opening set pretty easily, the quality of the match improved throughout the encounter, as Thiem started to find his rhythm in a topsy-turvy second frame, breaking Federer’s serve in the first as well as in the fourth game. The Swiss being 5-0 down, rallied back, winning five games in a row to take the set into an exciting tie-break. Thiem needed to save two match points to finally seal the frame with an overhead smash.
After a short rain delay, both players had early chances of a break but it was Thiem setting the tone in the seventh game before the match was interrupted once again. The youngster handled the difficult situation very well, stayed cool and served the match out after one hour and 57 minutes.
“Any match you lose is not great but it’s even tougher when you lose with match points. Nonetheless, it was a good match from both sides in tough conditions, playing in the rain at the end of the second set. Coming back from 5-1 down, it was tough to lose the breaker,” Federer explained but could also see the positives.
“I was pleased the way I was playing. Clearly I can play better in the bigger moments but at the same time I think he came up with some really good shots when he needed them. That’s what actually created a good match. Looking back, it was not too bad, just unfortunate. I just keep working hard and hopefully next time it goes my way.”
It was Federer’s first week on grass after skipping Roland Garros and so he was pleased with his performance.
“It went surprisingly well. I was able to play three difficult matches in a row. Conditions were pretty fast during the week, that’s why I think we saw a lot of tie-breakers and close scores. Dominic kept fighting, trying and believing. Confidence can help you in the tough moments. I had my chances, serving at 7-6 in the breaker. I got 80% chance to win the point with my first serve and 50% to win it with my second. Things will be all good, if I win that point.”
The world number three will continue his grass court season at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle next week.
“It was the right decision to come to Stuttgart instead of resting another week before Halle. I gained some confidence and today was even my best match.”
Due to a two-year-contract with the Mercedes Cup, Federer closed his press conference with the words: “Thank you, and see you next year!”
Thiem visibly didn’t feel comfortable with his second consecutive victory over Federer. He obviously didn’t expect this outcome.
“It feels a bit unreal, winning this match,” the Austrian youngster told afterwards. “I didn’t know that I was able to play that well on grass. One reason might be the fact that I started the match without any expectations. I was relaxed until my arm got a bit shakey, when I was serving for the second set. My level of play was great and this is the happiest moment of my tennis season.”
Thiem has reached his fifth final of the season on the third different surface. “I knew that I could go deep on clay as well as on hard courts, but I didn’t expect it on grass, especially not in the first week after an exhausting tournament in Paris. I put myself under pressure at Roland Garros, but this week I have been able to enjoy every match so far. This makes it special.”
Thiem’s coach Günter Bresnik did not attend the latest success of his player.
“He has made me fit for the grass court season, but had already left home ahead of my first match. He has not been at home for a long time, travelling all the tournaments with me in recent times. So we had the deal that he will not attend the entire week here in Stuttgart.”
Thiem was actually not hoping for a re-match of the final in Munich against Kohlschreiber.
“Kohli is one of my best friends on the tour, but nonetheless I hope to get another opponent in the final. Both are great players but Philipp beat me in two important matches, so I hope to face a different player.”
The German, however, did not fulfill the wish and advanced to the final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Juan Martin Del Potro. The match was suspended for more than three hours due to rain with Kohlschreiber leading 6-3, 2-2. The players returned to the court at 8 p.m. local time and Kohlschreiber converted his third match point 28 minutes later just the moment when it started to rain again. The seventh seed fired nine aces, saved the only break point he faced to close it out after one hour and 15 minutes of play.
“I played very well, trying to be aggressive all the time. I am happy to finish the match on time, as it was getting a bit dark at the end,” Kohlschreiber told. He will face Thiem for the third time, leading 2-0 in head to head records. He beat the Austrian youngster in Kitzbühel 2015 and in the final of the this year’s BMW Open in Munich.
“I think it is going to be a great final. We deserved it. We know each other very well and I hope that I will be able to hold him off, as – behind Djokovic – he has been the player of the season so far.”