ATP Buenos Aires: Dominic Thiem Claims First Title Of 2016
Dominic Thiem victorious in Argentina. Photo: Argentina Open

Dominic Thiem won the fourth title of his career at the Argentina Open on Sunday, winning an epic two-and-a-half-hour battle with Nicolas Almagro 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4). Thiem patiently outwaited Almagro, who managed to out-serve his young opponent for the better part of the match. But Thiem was stronger in the clutch moments, winning both breakers to claim the match and the title.

Thiem Grits Out Early Lead

Both men were coming into the match having managed upsets earlier in the tournament. Almagro had upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals and David Ferrer in the semifinals, while Thiem had scored the biggest win of his career in the semifinals over Rafael Nadal. The first set was a serving contest between the two, men with both performing strongly. Almagro dominated his first serve, winning 85 percent but was far weaker on his second serve, being limited to 31 percent. Still, the Spaniard had the only break points chances of the set, both of which Thiem saved. The set required a tiebreak, which Thiem dominated to grab an early lead.

Thiem plays a backhand in Buenos Aires. Photo: Argentina Open
Thiem plays a backhand in Buenos Aires. Photo: Argentina Open

Almagro Breaks Through

Despite the lead, Thiem still struggled to make a dent on his opponents serve. He finally reached break point in the second set, but could not convert. Almagro kept the pressure up on his return and was rewarded with a break to lead 4-3. Almagro did not let up despite his break lead, and attacked Thiem’s serve again when the young Austrian served to stay in the second set. Despite having won 80 percent of his first serve points in the set, Thiem struggled severely on his second serve, only winning three of those points in the set. He was broken for a second time to grant Almagro the second set and force a decider.

Thiem Fights Back for Title

Dominic Thiem with the trophy. Photo: Argentina Open
Dominic Thiem with the trophy. Photo: Argentina Open

Momentum seemed to be firmly in Almagro’s corner entering the second set, as he broke Thiem for the third consecutive time for the early 2-0 lead. But Thiem, who have saved match point against Nadal in the semifinals, finally broke through to even the set. The two men continued to exchange one-handed backhands, but neither managed to break through again, meaning the title would be decided by a tiebreak. Like the set itself, Almagro grabbed a 2-0 lead, only for Thiem to fight back, the Austrian won seven of the next nine points to wrap up his fourth title of his career, and first of 2016.

By the Numbers

Thiem narrowly out-aced Almagro 9-0, but also had five double faults to Almagro’s none. Their service numbers were very similar, only Thiem faced 11 break points, saving eight, while Almagro only needed to face three break points, saving two. In the end, Thiem only won five more points than his Spanish opponent. Almagro is titleless since 2012, while Thiem, already the youngest player in the top 20, solidified his position as the tour’s premier up-and-coming young gun with the title.