World number 14 Dominic Thiem overcame sickness and a foot injury to reach the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters round of 16, after he defeated Taro Daniel in three sets.
Daniel Takes Advantage To Grab Shock Early Lead
Taro Daniel took full advantage of the Austrians ailments to snatch a quick lead. The Japanese qualifier served to start the match, breaking Thiem in the third game to jump out to a 4-1 lead.
Thiem responded immediately with a break of his own to draw level, but Daniel seized the opportunity with another break to take the set in 42 minutes. The Japanese's ability to win points on his serve was key to taking the first set, winning 75 percent of his first serve points and 67 percent of second serve points. When you comapre it to the Austrian, he only won 57 percent of his first serve points and 46 percent of second serve points.
Thiem Sorts It All Out, Takes It In Three
Thiem's play became more composed after that. He didn't allow any break point opportunities for Daniel for the rest of the match. On the flip side, Thiem converted five break points from nine opportunities on Daniel's serve.
Daniel had no answers to Thiem's finesse in the second set. Thiem gave up a mere three points on serve winning 46 percent of all return points played.
Daniel picked it up on the return at the start of the third set but Thiem's pressure on the return overpowered the young Japanese player. Thiem won all eight second serve return points and nearly half of all first serve returns. To put it in perspective, Daniel won six points on serve in the set and half of those points came from when he was down a break point. Thiem broke him for a third and final time to take the match in one hour and 43 minutes.
Nadal and Thiem Meet Again
With the win Thiem improves to 26-6 on the season, capturing titles in Buenos Aires and Acapulco in February. His next opponent, Rafael Nadal, will look to avenge his loss to Thiem back in Buenos Aires.
The head to head record is 1-1. Thiem narrowly edged past the Spaniard in a 3rd set tiebreaker back in February. Thiem went on to win the title. (d. Almagro)
"Thiem is a great player," Nadal said of Thiem. "Clay is probably the best surface for him. I expect a very difficult match. I know to have chances, I have to play very well. I need to do it and I going to try to do it.”