August 31, 2018 / 10:55 PM / 10 months ago

Tennis: Thiem battles back to defeat Fritz in third round

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ninth seed Dominic Thiem fought back to defeat American Taylor Fritz 3-6 6-3 7-6(5) 6-4 and reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Friday.

Aug 31, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Dominic Thiem of Austria returns a shot against Taylor Fritz of the United States in a third round match on day five of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Austrian fired down 18 aces and broke Fritz five times to set up a meeting on Sunday with last year’s losing finalist Kevin Anderson.

“I’ve always lost in the fourth round so I think it’s time I get to the quarters,” Thiem said in an on-court interview after making it through to the last 16 for the fourth time.

The French Open finalist had to battle his emotions as well as the 20-year-old Fritz on an overcast day at Flushing Meadows.

Trailing 2-0 in the third set, frustration boiled over for Thiem and he destroyed his racket on the hardcourt of the Grandstand.

“A lot of bad things were going through my mind as everyone could see,” an embarrassed Thiem said.

“I’m very sorry for that.”

Later in an eventful set Fritz, serving with a 4-2 lead, unsuccessfully dived for a volley and cut his knee on the court, sending blood trickling down his leg and leading to a medical timeout.

“I just scraped it. I do it all the time when I slide,” he told reporters afterwards.

“It’s fine. Just a cut.”

Thiem finally took control of the match when Fritz sent a forehand long on set point in the third-set tiebreaker.

When Thiem was about to serve for the match at 5-3 up in the fourth set, rain halted proceedings for about 20 minutes.

Upon resumption, Thiem handed Fritz a lifeline as he produced three double faults to surrender his serve.

But the American’s hopes of forcing a fifth set were shortlived as Thiem broke back to seal the match when Fritz sent a backhand long on match point.

“We both played bad service games, traded breaks,” Fritz said of the final two games.

“That’s because we played four sets basically, then just sat on nothing. It was cold. Just did nothing for like 10, 15 minutes, then had to stand up. I bet he was stiff as well.

“It’s just what happens.”

Thiem said he knows he has his work cut out for him when he faces big-serving South African Anderson in the fourth round.

“He’s one of the hottest players on tour right now,” Thiem told reporters.

“Last four slams, he made two finals. Out of the big servers he’s the one with the best baseline game and with the best return.

“You are under pressure basically the whole match,” he said.

Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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