Matt Ebden and Dominic Thiem traded breaks to open their second round match at the Shanghai Masters.
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Photo: Matt Ebden hits a forehand against Dominic Thiem in their second round match at the Shanghai Masters
Australia’s world no. 51 Ebden was pushed again in his second service game but managed to hold after seeing off a breakpoint. World no. 7 Thiem was playing his opening match of the tournament after having a bye in the first round. The Austrian held serve to love to level the match at 2-2.
In the fifth game, Ebden again faced break points. Serve and volley tennis saw him save several before going onto win the game. The point that gave Ebden his final advantage point was a marathon with Thiem well on top, but Ebden kept the ball in play and eventually saw Thiem make an error.
Ebden plays great serve-volley tennis and is looking to get to the net to end points as often as he could. At 0-15 in the ninth game, he showed his mastery of the volley when he charged the net and played a volley that he carves towards the court and then had the ball spin away from Thiem. Shots like that helped Ebden move out to a 5-4 lead in the opening set.
Serving to stay in the set, Thiem served a double-fault to make the score deuce, he then gave Ebden a breakpoint after hitting long. A well placed first serve out wide saved the set on that occasion. Thiem would offer up another breakpoint after he hit into the net. After a long rally in which Ebden raced from side-to-side, it was Thiem that gave up the set when he hit another shot into the net.
Ebden served at 67% in the opening set compared to Thiem at just 39%. They both served one double-fault, but it was the timing of Thiem’s that was crucial as it helped setup the second break of serve for Ebden that saw him win the opening set.
The first two games of the second set went with serve. Thiem then had two break points in the third game and was able to convert to go out to a 2-1 lead. Ebden was later able to break Thiem and then he was one game away from taking the match in straight sets. The pressure was on the Austrian at 4-5, serving to stay in the match. Thiem held serve to level things up at 5-5.
Ebden was able to comfortably hold serve, it was now up to Thiem to hold serve and take the second set into a tiebreaker. The Austrian did hold serve and then took the first point of the tie-breaker to have a mini break. Ebden was able to get a point against serve to be serving at 1-2. Thiem split the next two points with Ebden to be serving at 3-2. A double-fault from Thiem leveled the scores at 3-3. A double-fault late in the first set proved costly for the Austrian, would history repeat itself?
The score moved to 5-5, the next point would be a match point or set point, it was to be a set point as Thiem edged out to 6-5. The Australian held his nerve and got the score to 6-6. Thiem won the next point to be serving for the set at 7-6. He failed to get the job done on the first occasion, he had another set point at 7-8 with Ebden serving. Another set point was saved. Thiem again was serving for the set, this time at 9-8. He finally converted to take the match into a deciding third set.
Would the Austrian now power his way through the third set after coming close to going home with a loss in his first match of the tournament?
The third set went with serve up until Ebden was serving at 4-5 to stay in the match. Thiem had just claimed the ninth game with a rocket of a backhand. Ebden held to love to level the set at 5-5.
After Thiem hit just long, Ebden earned a breakpoint. Thiem dragged his backhand wide to concede the game. Ebden would next step up to serve for the match at 6-5.
Ebden played a classic serve and volley point to win the opening point. He tried again on the next point but Thiem’s second shot from an Ebden volley had too much heat handle. Ebden kept on the serve and volley path, he hit a great first volley that Thiem chased down and hit a great passing shot for 15-30. An ace took Ebden to 30-30, but then a mishit forehand that sailed long gave Thiem a breakpoint. Another ace for duece.
The tension mounted as Ebden had match point after Thiem hit wide. It was a dramatic point. Ebden served and volleyed, Thiem’s return clipped the top of the net and Ebden adjusted to volley back to Thiem. With time to line up the next shot Thiem rocketed the ball toward Ebden and despite have a good play at the ball Ebden sent his volley long.
Eventually, Thiem would get the break to send the match into a deciding tie-breaker. Ebden started with a run of three points, only for Thiem to win the next two. Ebden moved out to 4-2 at the change of ends. He served a big serve down the T to almost get an ace, instead, Thiem could only just touch the ball for 5-2 Ebden. A Thiem forehand winner and it was 3-5 with Thiem serving. Ebden dragged the ball wide to be serving at 5-4, just two points from victory.
A good body serve earned Ebden two match points as team fended the ball into the net. He closed out the match with another great serve that Thiem could not get over the net. That completed a 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(4) victory for the Australian. It was his third top-ten victory of his career.
Ebden had played a classic serve and volley match. At any time he saw an opportunity he rushed the net, and more often than not he won the point.
Next up for Ebden is Germany’s world no. 68 Peter Gojowczyk. The German defeated Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(5).