Austrian Dominic Thiem acknowledged the great serve of John Isner after their clash at the Madrid Masters.
Thiem, seeded at No. 3, recovered from a set down to beat Isner 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the Madrid Masters quarterfinal.
“I think it’s comparable to a goalkeeper [facing] a penalty. If he places it well, if it has the right speed, there’s just no time to react,” Thiem said of Isner’s serve.
“You either have to guess or hope that he’s missing the first serve. It’s just pure luck actually to return it. It’s like a 50/50 chance. That’s why it’s so, so tough.”
Thiem didn’t have a single break point in the first set but claimed one break in each of the following two sets to create a comeback.
“It’s not only the first serve, it’s the second as well, which has such a high bounce,” said Thiem. “You go close, return it, which is unbelievably tough, especially here on clay in altitude, or you go five, six metres back behind the baseline. He has a lot of time to come in the net. It’s just incredibly tough to be a returner against him.”
Thiem happy with his Madrid Masters campaign..
“I’m pleased with everything [in] my game,” said Thiem. “I’ve played three very different opponents. Everything is working quite well. [My] groundstrokes are working well. The serve was pretty good all the time. The return today, especially in some parts of the game, was very good.
“I guess that I’m on the right [path] definitely. But still many things to improve, getting 100 per cent back in the match rhythm, anticipation and everything… I am surprised to be in the semi-finals.”
Thiem has had success on the clay courts of Madrid but he has yet to win it all at the tournament.
Thiem was the back-to-back Madrid Masters runner-up in 2017 and 2018.