Breaking bad: Thiem squanders 14 break points in loss to Djokovic

The record will indicate that Novak Djokovic made relatively routine work of Dominic Thiem in the fourth round Miami Open on Wednesday afternoon. A far more accurate picture, however, is painted by both the statistics and the proverbial eye test. Anyone who was in attendance at stadium court surely appreciated the entertaining contest to which they were treated, even though Djokovic finished the job in seemingly dominant 6-3, 6-4 fashion.

A much different story could have unfolded if Thiem had been able to come up with the goods at the pressure-packed moments. Instead, the 14th-ranked Austrian squandered 14 of 15 break points and the only one he converted came via a Djokovic double-fault.
Thiem 1
In the first set, Thiem survived a three-deuce game and fought off one set point to hold for 3-5. He then had four break points to get back on serve, but Djokovic battled trough a four-deuce game to close it out. With the top-seeded Serb serving for the match at 5-4 in the second, he saved four more break points, navigated seven deuces, and finally converted a fourth match point to prevail after one hour and 49 minutes.

“It [was] going to end sooner or later,” Djokovic said. “Generally I don’t face that many break points, but conversion of break points from my opponent today was only one out of [15], so that’s a positive in a way. But I’ll try not to get myself in those positions too much…. It was a straight-set win, but far from easy. It was a tough match.”
“Today (there) were positive and negative things,” Thiem posted on his Facebook page. “I can take advantage of (them) in the future…. I couldn’t take advantage of my [break points]; I only converted one out of 15; that’s [not enough], especially when your opponent is the No. 1 in the world.

“Nevertheless, I am happy about my performance here in Miami; I was able to gain some new experience and now I am heading, of course a little bit disappointed, back home. Next up, clay-court season!”

The hard-court proceedings will continue at least one more round for Djokovic, and for Gael Monfils. Joining Djokovic in the quarters by also advancing on Tuesday were Monfils, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, Nick Kyrgios, David Goffin, and Gilles Simon. Monfils recovered from a set deficit to outlast Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in a day-session match that went well into the night.

After going down an immediate break in the third set, the Frenchman broke right back and earned another scalp of the Dimitrov serve at 4-3 before shutting the door at love in emphatic fashion. By lasting exactly two and a half hours, it forced the Kei Nishikori vs. Roberto Bautista Agut clash to be moved from the stadium to the Grandstand.
Photos courtesy of Miami Tennis News

41 Comments on Breaking bad: Thiem squanders 14 break points in loss to Djokovic

  1. Still trying to get used to this new version of le Monf 🙂

    After years of squandering his abilities playing the clown we are now seeing what he is capable of when he focuses on winning matches instead of amusing the crowds – as a dejected Dmitriov discovered to his cost.

  2. By his standards that was a bad day at the office for Djokovic who was visibly irritated by the crowd rooting for the underdog. Luckily for him Thiem’s inability to capitalise on multiple break opportunities and his own instinct for survival saved the day in the nick of time.

    • Lucky for Thiem Djokovic was saving himself. Seems like he doesn’t need a 100 percent to win these days, just hits top gear when absolutely required.

  3. Not trying to hate on Thiem, but I felt there’s more negatives than positives out of the match.

    Yes, almost all of Djokovic’s service games went to deuce, 15 break points, and yet Thiem was only able to capitalize on one of them (due to a double fault). The majority of these break points weren’t influenced by the serve, which leads me to believe there’s some confidence / mental issue Thiem needs to work on.

    All this while Djoko was consistently making double faults, UEs show there’s still a very huge gap between the 2.

  4. Not a bad record for a guy who plays safe. Oh and also boring ping pong tennis was another description!

    What does that say about the other top players who can’t even challenge Novak right now!

    Amazing to think that Novak came within one match if winning the calendar slam last year, all while supposedly playing this inferior brand of tennis.

    Novak seems to know what he had to do to get through the earlier rounds of tournaments without pushing himself too hard. He’s got such incredible confidence now and so much belief. Winning when not playing your best is what Rafa and Fed have done throughout their careers. Now it appears that Novak is doing the same.

    I prefer to go with rafa’s assessment of Novak as the best player in the game now. Rafa has given Novak all due credit for what he’s done. That’s because Rafa knows better than anyone what it takes to stay at the top.

    No sour grapes from Rafa. Just a lot if class and the ability to give credit where credit is deserved.

    • You’ve nailed it NNY.

      Djokovic has transcended from being a great player to the ranks of tennis gods. To be a god you need the highest possible level of ability combined with an acute sense of that ability based on the a firm belief you are not as other players are. Like all sporting gods he wields that status like a club to subdue his victims.

      • ed,

        Do you really mean it about Novak? No accusations about me being a closet Novak fan or an out and out Novak fan?

        It doesn’t make me happy to have to admit this reality. I dearly wish that Rafa could find himself again and make things competitive. He was the one who got the better of Novak from 2012 to 2014 in the slams. Stan was able to challenge Novak in slams and finally knocked hm out in the 2014 AO in the quarterfinals. Then he beat Novak last year at RG.

        But Rafa has been novak’s chief rival. There is a big void now with him being in a prolonged slump. Rafa having to retire from his first match was another lost opportunity. His half of the draw is wide open with the absence of Fed, Stan and Murray. It was a chance to get to another semi or even the final. Rafa needs to have consecutive good tournaments in order to get back to his best.

        I do not look forward to Novak cleaning up and winning without any real challenge this year. But I do have to accept the reality and give him credit for finding a formula to stay on top and still have the desire to be the best he can be.

        • Come, come NNY you and I have chatted since the early days of TT. Surely you know me well enough to know I don’t go in for goading anybody apart from the outright trolls. If I disagree I say so.

      • Well he’s come a long way since then and his attitude in this video, right or wrong, was positive and confident and has gotten him to where he is today.


        • From the first time I watched him playing Rafa ten years ago I had a hunch he could one day become Rafa’s biggest rival – it just took longer than I expected. I still believe Rafa will come out of this slump. Just wish he would get a move on.

    • All these commies are full of hyperbole. Of course Nole is winning now but ‘the most complete player ever seen’?

      • For me — he’s the most balanced of Rafa, Roger or anyone I’ve seen. He lacks some of the spectacular of a Rafa or Roger but has less weaknesses in his tennis game.

        Gilbert is full of hyperbole. A little bit of him goes a long way.

        • And the most consistent.

          I didn’t see the error count but it must have been pretty low against Berdych (not a lot of winners either).

          Just a wall though.

        • rc,

          Excellent observation about Novak compared with Fed and Rafa. Maybe not the flash and flair of Rafa and Fed, but without the weaknesses.

          Very true!

  5. I think Thiem can get there, but it will take more time. I do not see him as a slam contender now. I try to be cautious when making predictions about a young player. A few years ago it was Jerzy Janowicz. Dimitrov has been talked up as maybe the next great player, but he’s gone backwards.

    Thiem has the complete game and has shown some mental toughness and the desire to keep working. If he can stay on track, then he will be someone to watch. But for me, it’s still a bit premature to anoint him as the next great player.

    Also, Novak is still in his prime. He’s not going anywhere. Murray is also still very much in his prime. I don’t think the young guys will break through until the top four are done.

    • I’m convinced Nole is sometimes fakig bad to lay a false trail but I’m sure that was not the case in his duel with Gillou. It was a war of attrition, as Simon matches often are, but he was banking on outlasting him over five sets. He also has the uncanny multiple champions’ knack of raising his game at the last minute to get over the line.

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