Top seed Dominic Thiem of Austria survived the upset wave by getting past Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 7-5, 6-4 in the Qatar Open tennis tournament here while Russia’s Andrey Rublev withstood Spain’s Fernando Verdasco to set up a quarterfinal tie against Borna Coric.
Thiem made a strong start breaking Bedene to take a 4-1 lead but Bedene fought back to level the set at 4-4 on Wednesday. Thiem then missed three set points before converting on his fourth to win a close first set 7-5 when Bedene hit a Forehand wide.
In the second set, Bedene put up a stiff resistance as he came under repeated pressure from the top seed. The World No. 49 saved nine of 10 breakpoints but a lone break was sufficient for Thiem to close out the match in straight sets.
After the match, Thiem said that he was pleased to get through in straight sets. “It was a tough match, but I expected it and had two tough matches which I both won in straight sets. So I think that’s a perfect start to the New Year. If you have to fight a lot, if you have to suffer a bit, I think it’s very good like this. You get a lot of tough situations already in the first matches, and that’s why I’m happy with the start.”
Rublev withstood a late charge from veteran Fernando Verdasco to win through in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The young Russian did not serve well in windy conditions and both players were inconsistent splitting the first two sets.
But in the third set, the quality of play improved and Rublev was able to get the crucial break with some consistent tennis. When serving for the match, Rublev faced two break points as Verdasco came up with some big forehands.
But Rublev held on strong and brought up match point with a forehand winner. Rublev completed the win with a strong serve to set up a quarterfinal against Borna Coric who won through easily against Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Rublev elaborated on the reasons for his win. “I think in third set, I was quite focused. I was quite calm. I was not showing emotions. I was trying to focus on the points and the rallies. That was the main part when I start to play a little bit better. And then I win.”
Eight seed Feliciano Lopez also bit the dust against qualifier Mirza Basic 6-4, 7-6(2). But crowd favourite Gael Monfils came through against Jan Lennard Struff 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.