Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their ATP Madrid Open semi-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2019. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
Austria's Dominic Thiem celebrates after winning a point against Serbia's Novak Djokovic during their ATP Madrid Open semi-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2019. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Madrid: Austria’s Dominic Thiem had to save two match points in the second-set tiebreaker before pulling out a 3-6, 7-6 (13-11), 6-4 victory over Roger Federer at the Madrid Open. In the match on Friday, the fifth-ranked Thiem was able to weather the storm against the 37-year-old Swiss great, who had reached the quarterfinals in his first appearance in four years at this ATP Tour Masters 1000 clay-court event and came out on fire with ultra-aggressive tactics in the first set, Efe news reported.

Not wanting to get into long, punishing rallies with his 25-year-old opponent, Federer mixed in some of the serve-and-volley tennis he had employed in recording his 1,200th career victory in Thursday’s round of 16 against Frenchman Gael Monfils. The world No. 3’s aggressive strategy proved to be effective early on, as the Swiss put a sky-high 84 percent of his first serves in play in the first set, controlled play from the center of the court and sent Thiem scrambling to chase down balls from side to side.

Thiem, meanwhile, returned poorly at the start of the contest and also was caught off balance by the return game of Federer, who used short slices and drop shots to jerk the Austrian out of position. In the second set, Thiem improved his return game and managed to draw Federer into more traditional clay-court rallies that stymied his aggressiveness, but the Swiss still fended off all five break points he faced to force a tiebreaker.

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