METZ, September 23, 2016
Dominic Thiem headlined quarterfinal action inside Les Arènes in Metz on Friday. The top seed of the Moselle Open battled past Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6.
Thiem, who is making his tournament debut in northeast France, withstood 16 aces, hitting seven of his own. The 23-year-old from Austria broke the Luxmbourg’s serve one time and prevailed in 82 minutes.
“I played a very solid first set, as I returned well,” Thiem told Tennis TourTalk after his encounter. “It wasn’t only about the break in the first set, because I also had further chances in the following. Nonetheless, you cannot expect to break Gilles in every set, so it went into the tie-break, which was very close. I was twice down a mini-break but I fought back with good points. Winning indoors against such a good server in straight sets is still something special for me.”
The Austrian youngster was forced to withdraw two times this season in Hamburg with illness and in Los Cabos due to hip injury. Thiem also retired in Sydney with blisters, Toronto with hip problems and most recently at the US Open due to knee injury. Back on the ATP World Tour in Metz, he seemed to be in great physical shape again.
“My knee is fine. I can move in a perfect way and I feel better every day.” Thiem received special support by compatriot and doubles partner in Metz, Jürgen Melzer. As arranged, his coach Günter Bresnik left the tournament on Thursday. “Jürgen and our trainers made a good job today,” the world number 10 told with a smile but pointed out that Melzer is still pursuing his own career.
“He will leave for Orleans tomorrow. We had a great week here together and I think that he will be back soon in singles on the big stage. I hope that he will play a couple of more years, as he is still an outstanding player.”
Thiem seems to feel comfortable during his tournament debut in Metz, making his ninth semi-final of the season.
“The arena is very nice here and it was great that a lot of spectators attended the match today. It was fun and I hope that even more people will come tomorrow.”
Thiem will next face Gilles Simon. The two time Moselle Open champion and last year’s runner-up gained his third tour win over Malek Jaziri in as many meetings between the two, winning 7-6, 6-0 in the opening match on Court Patrice Dominguez.
Jaziri, who acted like a slice machine with his backhand, was twice up a break in the opening set but eventually lost the frame in the tie-break 7-2. Simon started to find his rhythm in the second, gaining an early break in the first game and backed it up in the following. The world number 12 served out after one hour and 40 minutes to reach his first semi-final of the season.
“It’s not the biggest result ever but I get a lot of satisfaction from fighting through and winning the match,” said Simon. “The first set was very tight. Malek likes to change the rhythm and adjust his court position quite a bit. I managed to hang on.”
Third seed Lucas Pouille fought past wild card Julien Benneteau, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. The 22-year-old Dubai resident fired 17 aces and capitalized on two of his nine break point opportunities to prevail in two hours and 20 minutes.
Pouille will appear in his third semi-final of the season, taking on David Goffin. The tournament’s number two from Belgium had to fight hard to overcome Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. Goffin, who lifted the trophy in Metz two years ago, sent down 10 aces and gained the decisive break in the seventh game of the final set and finished the encounter in two hours and three minutes.