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By Tennis Now | Thursday, September 20, 2018

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem tamed Jan-Lennard Struff, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to reach his 12th quarterfinal in 18 tournament starts this season.

Photo credit: St. Petersburg Open/Formula_TX Facebook

Dominic Thiem's graceful arrival followed Mikhail Youzhny's gritty departure in St. Petersburg.

Playing his first indoor match of the season, Thiem tamed Jan-Lennard Struff, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to reach his 12th quarterfinal in 18 tournament starts this season.

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The US Open quarterfinalist had little turnaround time after contesting Davis Cup on red clay. Thiem was tough on serve, rallying from love-30 down several times in the second set and saving three of four break points.

"Very tough because it was my first indoor match of the year, which is always tricky, and I just came from Davis Cup outdoor clay so a huge change," Thiem said. "And Struff had already won a match and it's tough to play him because he's serving very, very hard. Every first serve over 210, 215 so I'm happy with the performance."

Russian stalwart Youzhny played his final match with a gladiator zeal.

Playing for his 500th ATP Tour-level victory, Youzhny came achingly close before bowing to Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3, in the final match of his 19-year career.

Bautista Agut advanced to a quarterfinal meeting with Marco Cecchinato, a 7-5, 7-6 (6) victor over Lukas Lacko.

The 36-year-old Youzhny concludes his career with 10 singles titles in 21 finals, $14.2 million in prize money, 499 career victories and a career-high ranking of No. 8, which he achieved in 2008.

The Moscow native, who holds a philosophy degree from Moscow University, was philosophical in his farewell.

"I don’t have so much emotions, because now nothing changes for me," Youzhny told ATP World "Yeah I understand, from one part of my mind, I finished my tennis career and now it’s going to be a new life for me. But if you say right now after the match, nothing changed."

It's possible Youzhny could un-retire, accept a wild card into the Kremlin Cup next month and take another shot at his 500th career win. If he does, he would join Yevgeny Kafelnikov (609-306) as jus the second Russian to win 500 ATP matches.

Youzhny made history 16 years ago when he became the first man to rally from a two-sets deficit in a fifth and decisive match in a Davis Cup final, out-dueling Paul-Henri Mathieu in a 4-hour, 27-minute marathon to lift Russia to its first Davis Cup championship with a 3-2 victory over host France.

Youzhny's long-time coach, Boris Sobkin, embraced him court as he said farewell today.

"From the beginning until the end, I was professional," Youzhny said. "The level of my game in last match shows that I’m retiring actually at a very good level."

The fifth-seeded Bautista Agut praised Youzhny as a fighter from first ball to last.

"It's a pleasure to play your last match," Bautista Agut said. "I was hitting with him and practicing with him. He's a good fighter and a really good tennis player and you could see he gives everything on the court until the last point."

The top-seeded Thiem takes on Daniil Medvedev for a spot in the final four.

The eighth-seeded Russian beat Mikhail Kukushkin, 6-3, 6-4. This will be Medvedev's first meeting since their junior days. 

"I think we played once, under 14, which is very long time ago," Thiem said. "Obviously, he has his best year so far so it's gonna be a tough match. Also the crowd is gonna be behind him.

"But I think it's nice for the tournament, for the crowd, home guy is playing the top seed so it should be fun to watch. It should be fun for us players so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night."

Denis Shapovalov stormed through the third set vanquishing Matteo Berrettini, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-0.

The seventh-seeded Shapovalov will play fellow left-hander Martin Klizan in the quarterfinals. 


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