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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 13, 2021

Lorenzo Sonego

Italy's Lorenzo Sonego captured the final quarterfinal spot in Rome with a rousing three-set victory over Dominic Thiem.

Photo Source: Internazional BNL d'Italia/ Giampiero Sposito

Lorenzo Sonego is riding high in Rome. The 26-year-old Italian notched his second Top 10 win to reach his second career Masters 1000 quarterfinal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Thursday night.

Tennis Express

It was a spirited 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) victory over World No.4 Dominic Thiem, one that began in a raucous atmosphere and ended in relative silence, long after the fans had been ushered off the grounds after the second set, due to a coronavirus curfew.

No matter, Sonego was good with and without crowd, and he lashed 50 winners to take a seesaw battle against Thiem, even saving a match point while serving with a perfectly executed serve-and-volley at 3-5, 30-40 in the third set.

Things remained complicated from that moment, but the wiry World No.33, blessed with jaw-dropping power and an underrated toolbox, kept answering Thiem’s best shots with beauties of his own, until he grabbed the bull by the horns in the breaker and finished off his spirited effort in three hours and 24 minutes, leaving a dejected Thiem to exit the court before he danced in celebration and gestured to the small group of credentialed Italians that remained in attendance.

Sonego will look to achieve another big upset on Friday when he faces Andrey Rublev in quarterfinal action. The pair met last year in the Vienna final—two days after Sonego knocked off Novak Djokovic for his biggest career win—with Rublev winning, 6-4 6-4.

Rublev defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals in Rome for the first time and improve to 29-7 on the season. The Russian had never reached a Masters 1000 quarterfinal prior to this year’s Miami Open. Since then he has reached the semis at Miami, the final at Monte-Carlo and now the quarterfinals at Rome.

Sonego is the last Italian standing at Rome, and he joins the following elite eight:

Inconclusive for Thiem, Again

Dominic Thiem played well in these last two weeks after returning from a six-week hiatus due to injuries and a general sense of ennui, but it is unclear if he is going to have enough time to hit his top form before Roland-Garros in two weeks' time.

Thiem went 4-2, reaching the semis in Madrid before losing to Alexander Zverev, and falling in the round of 16 in Rome to Sonego. Rome has never been Thiem's best event. He drops to 9-6 lifetime at the event, with his best ever result a semifinal in 2017.

At the moment it is unclear just where Thiem's game is at. He surpassed his own expectations in Madrid, but will likely be disappointed with today's loss. It wouldn't be surprising to see him take a wild card into Belgrade or Geneva next week, if any are on offer. Six matches on clay is not much, especially for Thiem, who tends to get better with time. With an extra week before Roland-Garros this year, the Austrian would still have a week off before Paris

As it stands now, he's probably not one of the top five favorites at Roland-Garros, simply based on his lack of form. When it comes to form, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rublev and Zverev seem a step ahead of him, at least for the moment, with Nadal and Djokovic the prohibitive top two favorites based on pedigree.


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