While the early semi-final in Madrid is a star studded clash between two of the best in the game in Djokovic and Nadal, early failures by Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka leaves the other semi final with a lot to be desired. It does however provide a great opportunity for eighth seed Dominic Thiem. The Austrian is highly favoured to beat Pablo Cuevas in the Saturday night match.
Thiem had a major breakthrough yesterday, making his first Masters 1000 semi final and on his favoured surface. He had previously lost all 4 quarter finals at this level – to Murray, Nishikori, Raonic and Wawrinka. Lucky loser Borna Coric was quite a level below these despite an impressive week with Thiem beating the Croatian fairly easily 6-1 6-4.
“It means a lot because this is a place with great memories for me. It’s where I had my first win over a Top 10 guy and now my first Masters 1000 semi-final is here,” said Thiem on his week in Madrid. “I was hoping for these results to come, but these tournaments are really strong, so it’s a great achievement.”
A semi final against the young German Alexander Zverev could have provided a glimpse of what’s to come at the top level once the big 4 have gone but Cuevas had other ideas, coming from a set down to also make his first Masters 1000 semi final. While Cuevas was always strong on clay, he never managed to have any statement runs at the bigger events.
The experience of Cuevas in their one and only meeting was too much for Thiem, who fell in 4 sets to the Uruguayan at Roland Garros in 2015. With 6 clay court titles to his name, including Rio this year, he has rose to the big occasion regularly and should really take this huge chance to make his first Masters final. Cuevas has played a three setter in all 4 of his matches this week and that should be soon catching up with him against Thiem.
Prediction: Dominic Thiem in straight sets