Sonego Shocks Djokovic In Vienna

STARNBERG/VIENNA, October 30, 2020

Lorenzo Sonego headlined Friday’s quarterfinal action at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna by knocking out top seed Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 to celebrate the biggest win of his career. The lucky loser from Turin has become the first Italian to beat a World No. 1 since Fabio Fognini defeated Andy Murray at the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Sonego saved all six break points he faced and capitalized on five of his own six break-point chances to prevail after only 68 minutes.

“For sure it’s the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing.”

Five days ago, the 25-year-old lost a three-setter in the final round of Vienna qualifying against Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia. Sonego, currently ranked World No. 42, replaced Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the main draw and has not lost a set since playing his top level.

“I played the best match in my life,” Sonego said. “I’m so happy for this.”

After the heaviest loss of his career, Djokovic said. “I came here with the intention to try to earn more points and secure the No 1 in the end of the year. I have done that, so I move on.

“I am happy, I am pleased, I am healthy, and hopefully I can have a strong finish [at the ATP finals] in London.

“I have done what I needed to do and why I came here. I am completely fine with today’s result and looking forward to the next chapter.”

Sonego will take on Daniel Evans from Great Britain, who battled past Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes.

Rublev knocks out Thiem

Earlier in the day, Andrey Rublev celebrated his 13th consecutive ATP 500 match win. The No. 5 seed from Russia toppled No. 2 seed and defending champion Dominic Thiem from Austria 7-6(5), 6-2.

Rublev struck 30 winners and won 55 per cent of the total points played to advance after one hour and 34 minutes.

“I came here with the mood that I have nothing to lose,” said Rublev. “I [had] already a really great season. Last year, I already [made] the quarter-finals so I knew it was going to be tough for me to get to the semi-finals.

”I came here with zero expectations, just [wanting] to do my best. To try to fight every match. At the end, I am here in the semi-finals.”

Thiem, who was on a 11-match-winning streak on home soil, struggled with foot blisters during the match.

“I have had problems since the first round. I am not sure whether I will play in Paris or not. A final decision will be made today or tomorrow,” Thiem told journalists in his virtual press conference and added about Rublev’s relentless game:

“He plays really quick from the baseline and has improved his serve, which allows him to put a lot of pressure on his opponent with his backhand.

“It’s difficult to get into the rallies, in particular during the return games. He is one of the Top 5 players at the moment and I hope that I will be able to fight back in our next meeting.” 

Rublev will next face Kevin Anderson, who made it through to his first ATP Tour semi-final in 21 months. The former World No. 5 from South Africa, appearing in Vienna for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2018, defeated No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev from Russia 6-4, 7-6(5) to earn his first Top 10 win since the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals. Anderson won 83 per cent of first-serve points and saved the only break point he faced to prevail after one hour and 29 minutes.

“I am very, very pleased. I have waited a long time to play a match like this. It was very high quality, and I knew I had to play very well against Daniil to get through,” said Anderson in an on-court interview.

The 34-year-old from Johannesburg was appearing in his first quarterfinal since undergoing a second right knee surgery on 19 February. Anderson improves to 9-8 this season with his seventh straight victory in Vienna.

“I love playing here,” said Anderson. “I have good memories from playing a couple of years ago. I was very disappointed not to be able to come back last year, but I am happy to be back here playing great tennis and I am really looking forward to my match tomorrow.”