Thiem Moves Closer To London Qualification
Dominic Thiem’s final push for another Nitto ATP Finals appearance continued with comfort on Wednesday. The 26-year-old Austrian knocked out home favourite Zhizhen Zhang 6-3, 6-3 to make the China Open quarter-finals in Beijing.
Thiem needs to reach the ATP 500 final to guarantee his spot for a fourth consecutive year at the season-ending championships, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London. He is currently in fifth place in the ATP Race To London (3,935 points), next in line to qualify as the Race leaders – Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev – have already booked their spots.
Thiem will next meet former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the Scot’s biggest test of his comeback from a second right hip surgery on 28 January. Murray beat countryman Cameron Norrie 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 6-1 to win consecutive matches for the first time since September 2018 in Shenzhen.
The Brit leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Thiem 2-1 and won both of their hard-court meetings (2015 Miami, 2014 Rotterdam).
Thiem, playing his first match since helping Team Europe win its third Laver Cup, broke twice in the opener after an aggressive start from Zhang saw the Chinese right-hander serving and volleying to take advantage of Thiem’s deep return position. The Austrian broke once more during the eighth game of the second set before serving it out to love.
World No. 9 Karen Khachanov fought past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy to secure a place in the quarter-finals, advancing 7-6(0), 7-6(5) in a match that featured no breaks of serve.
Khachanov won 96 per cent (43/45) of his first-serve points and didn’t face a break point. Chardy saved all three break points faced. The 23-year-old Russian will try to reach his second semi-final of the season (Montreal) against Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
Fognini, who’s still in Nitto ATP Finals contention, improved to 5-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Russian Andrey Rublev with a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Fognini saved 10 of 12 break points faced.
The Italian is trying to make his debut at the season-ending championships. The 32-year-old is currently in 13th place (2,055 points) in the ATP Race To London, only 130 points behind countryman Matteo Berrettini (2,185 points), who currently holds the eighth and final qualification spot.