In the opening round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Dominic Thiem came through in a tough battle 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 against the talented Alexandr Dolgopolov. The young Austrian will now play João Sousa in round two, who needed two hours and 56 minutes to defeat local wildcard Lorenzo Sonego in three sets.
The pair has met a total of five times, with the Austrian winning four times. In their only meeting on clay, Thiem won in comfortably in straight sets at Koznum Croatia Open Umag last year.
Early break seals set for Thiem
Dominic Thiem got off to a great start against Dolgopolov. Having held serve to get the match underway, the Austrian then ran away to love 40 before breaking for 2-0. In the following game, he consolidated for 3-0. Dolgopolov got on the board and the score was at 3-1. Thiem got off to a shaky start in the fifth game, but soon got it together and held to go 4-1 up.
Dolgopolov was slowly getting a grip on this match, but the early break seemed to have cost him in this set and after 25 minutes, Thiem wrapped up the set to love for a 6-3 lead. The Austrian was 100 percent in terms of break points won, having converted his first early on.
Dolgopolov fights grabs late break
Dolgopolov was looking to get back on level terms and in the latter parts of the first set, there were signs that he was willing to fight. The set got underway with two holds of serve and in the third game, the Ukrainian fought from love-30 down to take the game and stay ahead. The next three games were held and the set moved to 3-4 in favor of "The Dolg". In the upcoming game, Dolgopolov broke at the second time of asking and was a game away from leveling. He served it out to love and forced the decider.
Late break clinches victory for Thiem
The third set started with two holds of serve. In the third game, Dolgopolov double faulted and Thiem had a break point chance, however, the Ukrainian took a medical timeout due to a back injury he sustained. Soon after, he saved the break and ended up holding for 2-2. With the set level at 3-3, the young Austrian showed good sportsmanship and handed the point to the 27-year-old, though in the end it didn't matter as he held on. Both players held their next service game and with the match nearing its conclusion, Thiem reached match point and took his chance at the first time of asking to book a spot in the second round.
Thiem fired six aces and two double-faults while Dolgopolov hit seven aces and fired three double faults. Thiem was impressive on his first serve winning 84 percent of points with the Ukrainian winning 70 percent. Both were equal behind their second serve, winning 58 percent points.
Dolgopolov saved one from two breaks compared to only one from three by the Kiev native. Thiem fought off breaks points well, saving two out of three (67 percent). The 22-year-old was poor on returns, winning only 30 percent on his first and 42 percent on his second.