METZ, September 24, 2016
For the first time this season, the top four seeds were in semi-finals action of an ATP World Tour tournament with Dominic Thiem and Lucas Pouille making their way into Sunday’s title match of the Moselle Open in Metz.
The top seed from Austria fought past Gilles Simon in a topsy-turvy match, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Thiem had a slow start, overcooking a couple of baseline shots and noticeable mishits, which led to some signs of frustration in the middle of the second set.
But Thiem found his rhythm and played his best tennis at the end of the second set when Simon couldn’t serve the match out and the Austrian eventually took the match the distance. Thiem produced almost 40 unforced errors but fired 38 winners and was wide awake in the crucial moments with fantastic tennis, finishing the exciting encounter after two hours and 17 minutes.
“It was the expected difficult match today, but the longer the match lasted, the better I played,” a relieved Thiem told afterwards. “I didn’t feel comfortable on court in the beginning but I started to play more aggressively in the second set, which was the turning point.”
The Austrian youngster ended Simon’s successful series of winning 14 of the Frenchman’s 15 past matches in Metz.
“It was a completetely different encounter compared to the previous matches this week, which were dominated by the serves. Today, we had a couple of long rallies and it was physically very tough. I was also a bit nervous, which might led to a few misshits. The last bit of confidence is missing, too. Nonetheless, from 4-5 in the second set onwards, I started to play very well.”
Pouille Reaches Second ATP Final
Pouille defeated the tournament’s number two David Goffin 7-6, 6-1. The 22-year-old Frenchman, who made his debut in Metz on Thursday, sent down eight aces and hit 32 winners to gain his third win over Goffin in as many meetings between the two after one hour and 21 minutes.
“The tie-break in the first set made the difference today,” Pouille told. “With the beginning of the second set I put a lot of pressure on his return and once I got the double break, it was very tough for him to come back. This gave me a lot of confidence.”
The Dubai resident has enjoyed a great season so far, reaching two Grand Slam quarterfinals and finished runner-up to Fernando Verdasco in Bucharest.
“Winning my first ATP tournament is one of my goals this year. To make it happen in France would crown it. But Dominic is going to be the favourite tomorrow. He has won so many matches this year. It is going to be hard but I think I will have my chances.”
Pouille emerged victorious from the only previous meeting with Thiem, winning in straight sets at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo last year. The Austrian youngster expects a tough final.
“Lucas has had an unbelievable season so far, reaching the quarterfinals at the last two Grand Slams. He has a fast game and very good serve. I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Pouille will try to continue the outstanding statistics for the Frenchmen in Metz, as they accounted for six of the past seven titles here. Since 2009, Tsonga has won three times (2011, 2012, 2015), Simon has won twice (2010, 2013) and Monfils once in 2009. Thiem could become the first champion from Austria.