Lorenzo Sonego took the biggest win of his career by defeating Dominic Thiem in 3.30 hours and saving a match point in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2021. The world number 33 played possibly his best ever match to constantly put the Austrian on the ropes and even manage to fight back when things seemed compromised late in the third set. 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(5) the result that gave the last Italian in the draw a ticket for the quarterfinals, where he will play against Andrey Rublev.
“I almost had to play a perfect match to beat him, and I can see that the margin was so small since it only needed a couple missed volleys in the second set to be so close to lose the match”, admitted Sonego at the end of the match and it was an exactly accurate analysis.
The Italian fought like a lion, testing the US Open champion on long and tough rallies, alternating powerful accelerations with dropshots, net game with baseline scraping: the superb 50 winners to 31 unforced errors final count testify for the quality of the match that the Italian brought on court tonight. Thiem needed to find glimpses of his best tennis and all of his physical power to keep Sonego at bay. Even after forcing the match to the decider and having to wait for the public to leave the Grand Stand Arena, Sonego did not give up and even started the set with a break lead. However, Thiem replied to the great restart of the Italian with 4 consecutive games and a series of stunning winners.
When it all finally looked to go in the direction of the Austrian, Sonego saved a match point behind his serve with a brave volley. Thiem then had the chance to close it on serve, but a few unforced errors from him gave Sonego two chances to break back. The world number 4 saved them with a stunning forehand winner and a serve and volley behind the second serve, but on the third chance the Italian broke back and then easily hold for 6-5. The Austrian pushed the match to the tiebreak, but once again it was Sonego to take the lead.
With two phenomenal backhand down the line winners, Thiem recovered from 5-3 to 5-5, but a bad volley that died on the net handed to his rival one match point behind his serve. Sonego did not freeze and found a great serve to seal the biggest win of his career.
“To beat Thiem on clay it is so difficult,” he said after the match: “but today I have always believed in myself and I felt like I had to try until the end for all the people that supported me and gave me so much power in the first two sets”.