BARCELONA, April 27, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Upsets marked semi-final Saturday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, but tennis lovers had a lot to relish after seeing the way these came about. The two last remaining champions in the fray – Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori – exited the ATP 500 event but not before acknowledging how good their respective opponent was to make them rue their lapses.
In the first match of the day, Daniil Medvedev avenged his 2018 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters’ loss to the World No. 7 from Japan, to claim a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win after two hours and 24 minutes. This marked the 23-year-old Russian’s third final for the year and the first on clay.
Speaking to the press after the match, Medvedev acknowledged how the encounter seemed to turn against him before he righted it after going down an early break in the third. He said, “He was up a break in the third and I felt that I lost the momentum…I’m really happy that I managed to hold my nerves, to try to come back, and I managed to come back. I’m just happy to be in the final.”
Thiem upsets Nadal
Against Dominic Thiem, Medvedev would not only need to impose himself better but also hope that nerves do not get the better of him. For, if the Austrian were to play as good as he did against Nadal, it would be a tough task for the 23-year-old Moscow native, who trails in their head-to-head 1-0.
Thiem was unrelenting in his match against Nadal. Despite facing break points while serving for the match, the World No. 4 from Austria beat the defending champion in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and four minutes.
Dominic Thiem has STUNNED Rafael Nadal in Barcelona! 😳
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 27. April 2019
Noting how special the win was against Nadal, especially on the court named for him, Thiem said during his post-match press conference, “I’m always super proud if I beat him because he’s the best player ever on this surface, and it’s always very special to beat him here on clay. We always had great matches in the past, and also today was very good and I was more lucky today and I got the win.”
Thiem defeated Nadal on clay for the fourth straight season, becoming just the second player to garner four or more clay-court wins over the Spaniard.
But happy as he was about winning against the 11-time Barcelona champion, Thiem was also mindful of the threat Medvedev posed to his chances of claiming his maiden win in the tournament. “I think Daniil is in the best shape of his life. If I see the names of, who won this tournament here, of course I would love to be there as well,” stated Thiem, downplaying the tag of being the favourite to take it all.
Beyond who ends up on the podium as the winner though, one thing is clearly going to happen at the Reial Club de Tennis Barcelona on Sunday: one man is going to join Roger Federer as a multiple-time titlist in the 2019 tennis season.