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Jannik Sinner, on top of the world Jannik Sinner, seul au monde

Dominic Thiem lost to Sebastian Korda (7/6 3/6 6/7) in the Antwerp Open semi-finals in Belgium, on Saturday, the 22nd of October.

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The defeat of the Austrian player marks the end to the best week of his season. It shows how far Dominic Thiem has come since his return to the ATP circuit at the end of March. After a series of tough losses and disappointing performances, he seems to have found his tennis back. To play this match against Sebastian Korda, the former world number three fought a battle of more than three hours against Hubert Hurkacz, the current 11th in the ATP Rankings. This win marks another step in the quest for his former place in world tennis.

During the first set, both players showed an incredible level of tennis. From the very first rallies, Sebastian Korda attacked his opponent with a game built forward. Dominic Thiem repeated aggressive slices that bothered the young American. The games passed by with no break point: 3/3. Both players won their games of serve easily. Korda couldn’t return Thiem’s second serves; the latter was standing too far from his baseline to bother his opponent. The powerful backhand rallies kept on: 5/5.Logically, this first set ended up in a tiebreak. It was won by Dominic Thiem who took advantage of Sebastian Korda’s nervosity.

Then, the physiognomy of the match changed. The second set started with three breaks in a row whereas no break point had been granted during the first hour of play. Sebastian Korda led: 3/1. Dominic Thiem wasn’t up to the level of the first set. As he was more passive, his points lacked constructiveness. Sebastian Korda took advantage of his slump performance. Near of his baseline, he multiplied backhand winners. Helped by too many unforced errors fromThiem, Korda took the second set: 6/3.

The 2020 US Open winner rose his level of tennis during the deciding set. He found back his deep topspin forehand which allowed him to better build his points. Sebastian Korda served brilliantly. Each player kept his games of serve despite more unforced errors: 3/3. The tension was tangible. The Americain granted a first break after a double fault followed by a shot in the net: 4/3. Nevertheless, Dominic Thiem didn’t keep his advantage. An unnecessary offset forehand offered the break back the Sebastian Korda : 4/4. The latter was in the lead until the end of the set. The Austrian clinched a last tiebreak with an amazing one-handed backhand down the line. The American hold his nerves. He got an early double mini break – which was enough to reach the finals.

Throughout their first encounter, both players showed their unique games. Dominic Thiem alternated between explosive topspin forehands, low slices and his signature backhand down the line. Sebastian Korda, on the other hand, was consistently aggressive – both with his powerful strokes and his sought angles.

Despite reaching the final of the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2021, the young player had a disappointing 2022 season. This second final in a row could allow Sebastian Korda to end the year on a high note – with a potential second career title. The American will face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last game of the Antwerp Open.

Marnie Abbou

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