Thiem Stunned By Sugita In Halle

Dominic Thiem (photo: GERRY WEBER OPEN/HalleWestfalen)

HALLE, June 20, 2018

Dominic Thiem has yet to win a Grand Slam or ATP Masters 1000 title, but the 24-year-old Austrian is arguably the ATP World Tour’s most consistent player.

Thiem leads the tour with 36 victories in 2018 entering his second-round match at the Gerry Weber Open against Yuichi Sugita in Halle on Wednesday. The No. 3 seed, however, lost 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 28 minutes.

“Sugita played really well, and gave me little chance to attack,” said Thiem. “I was missing a few percentage points on my game.

“I was not great on returns and was struggling on serve. He completely deserved the victory.”

Yet, Thiem remains unconcerned with the state of his grass game after also losing in Halle in the second round last year before reaching a career-best Wimbledon fourth round.

“One year ago I played the same as I did this year and played well at Wimbledon. I would have rather done much better.

“But margins are much tighter on grass. If you have a bad day you can’t dig it out like I can on clay. If I don’t play at 100 per cent – like today – the match is lost.”

Sugita will next take on US-American qualifier Denis Kudla.

Nishikori falls

No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori, who reached the semi-finals here in 2014 and 2015, lost to Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-2, 6-2. The 22-year-old Moscow native sent down seven aces, saved the only break point he faced, converting four of his own to prevail after one hour and 17 minutes.

“He was playing good, but nothing special, I couldn’t make a first serve and I should have stayed back more at the baseline,” Nishikori said.

“Khachanov hits a flat ball and that makes it not so easy on grass. I need to train more before Wimbledon.”

Khachanov will face fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in Friday’s quarterfinals following his 6-4, 7-5 win over Dutchman Robin Haase.