Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was tested early and often by 14th-seeded Dominic Thiem, but nonetheless the world number one fought past the world number 14 for a 6-3, 6-4 victory to secure a place in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Miami Open.
The 22-year old Austrian played very well against the 28-year old Serbian, but could not find a way to convert his break chances, which do not come often against the world number one. Thiem had an unprecedented 15 break chances throughout the match, but only converted on one, for a conversion percentage of seven percent.
The two had only met once prior to this match, at the 2014 Shanghai Masters, where Djokovic won by the same score of 6-3, 6-4.
Djokovic Rides Early Break To Seal First Set
Thiem came out firing early. The 22-year old has had great success so far in 2016, taking home two titles already, in Buenos Aires as well as in Acapulco. Djokovic’s serve was faulty in his first service game as the top seed double faulted twice, but was still able to hold. In Thiem’s first service game, the Serbian number one broke right away on his first chance of the match, taking a 2-0 advantage.
He consolidated that break for a quick 3-0 lead. Thiem had numerous break chances throughout the set, including three in that third game, but failed to convert on any of them. Towards the end of the set, Thiem hit a beautiful shot and appeared to have finally broken the five-time Miami champion, but the call was overturned on a Djokovic challenge.
After a physically demanding 52 minutes of tennis, Djokovic took the first set on his second set point opportunity. Thiem had a better percentage of first serve points won, 88% to 62%, but his downfall was his inability to convert any of his eight break point chances.
Top Seed Fends Off Thiem To Earn Quarterfinal Berth
The level of play in this match continued to be extremely high. The fans got a great value out of this battle. Each player held to begin the second set before Djokovic drew first blood, breaking the Austrian in the third game. The Serbian let out a huge roar, showing how hard he was fighting in this match. In the sixth game, however, Thiem finally had done what he was incapable of doing for the entire match up to that point: break Djokovic.
The world number one double faulted, gifting the 22-year old his first break of the match. The glory of the break did not last long at all. Djokovic broke back right away to go up 4-3 before holding serve for a 5-3 lead. Serving at 5-4, the Serbian number one and five-time Miami Open champion held the match on his racket. On his first match point chance, Djokovic hit his ninth, and last, double fault of the match. Thiem fought extremely hard, amassing several more break chances to even the set at five games all.
However, as similar to the rest of the match, the 22-year old was unable to break the 28-year old world number one. After a nearly 14-minute game, Djokovic finally sealed the victory on his fourth match point chance. Compared to the first set, Thiem’s first serve points won percentage dropped from 88 to 64%, allowing Djokovic to get in more of his service games, as the top seed was able to break twice, helping him over the finish line.
Unlike many players, Thiem did very well returning the Djokovic serve. Remarkably, the Austrian won more points in his return games (43) than on his own service games (34).
The five-time Miami Open champion advances to the quarterfinals. He will meet world number seven Tomas Berdych on Stadium court tomorrow, Wednesday, March 30th. This marks the fourth straight year that the Czech has reached the quarterfinals in Miami. Djokovic is seeking to win his third straight title, and sixth overall, this year.
The match is schedule to begin no earlier than 9 PM, making it the final match of the night session. The Serbian goes into the match with a 22-2 head-to-head record over the Czech number one.