In recent years, Dominic Thiem has experienced an array of clay-court success. The right-hander has won six ATP World Tour titles on the red dirt and has twice reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros.
But Thiem has largely struggled to replicate that success on grass. He’s well on his way to changing that narrative, though, during this fortnight at Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Austrian continued his best run at The Championships on Saturday, beating #NextGenATP American Jared Donaldson 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 to make the fourth round of the grass-court Grand Slam for the first time. Thiem had never reached past the second round at the All England Club, falling in the round of 64 the past two years.
He entered Wimbledon this year after a shaky start on the grass as well, having fallen in the second round at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and during his opener at the Antalya Open in Turkey. But Thiem has put it all past him and has improved his level match by match at SW19.
“I think I’m, in general, a better player than I was last year. This is also paying off on grass. It’s different than on clay. On clay, I can go back on the returns and everything. It’s just not possible on grass, and that’s why I try to play more aggressively and to take the balls a little bit earlier,” Thiem said.
The World No. 8 beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil in straight sets in the first round and prevailed against French veteran Gilles Simon in round two. Thiem had to battle to get past Donaldson, though, who was looking to continue his best showing at Wimbledon.
Donaldson served for the first set at 5-3 but Thiem broke and then won the next three games to clinch the opener. The 20-year-old American continued to fight in the second set, though, seeing four break points at 2-1 but failing to convert any of them. Thiem broke the next game and then won nine of the next 13 games to advance. For the match, Donaldson was one for eight on break points.
Thiem will next face two-time semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, who put on a commanding performance to glide into the second week. The 2010 finalist erased the only break point he faced and won 84 per cent of his first-serve points to beat Spaniard David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 45 minutes.
Berdych, the 11th seed, converted four of his eight break points against Ferrer, who had beaten 22nd seed Richard Gasquet in the first round and advanced by retirement against Steve Darcis in the second round. The 11th seed advances to the second week of Wimbledon for the ninth time.
“It’s the best day of tennis that you can see,” Berdych said of “Manic Monday,” during which all 32 men and women left in the draws play. “I think if anybody asks me for a day that they want to go for the tennis, I’m saying it’s the second Monday of Wimbledon.”
Ferrer struggled to gain any traction on Berdych’s serve, and during the Spaniard’s one opening, Berdych quickly denied the opportunity. Berdych, serving at 30/40, 1-2 in the third set, hit three consecutive service winners to erase the break point and hold.