After two five-set battles in the first three rounds of the US Open‚ SA’s Kevin Anderson just did not have enough in his armoury to escape the fourth round on Sunday night.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem‚ more noted for his ability on clay‚ ousted the No 5 seed 7-5 6-2 7-6‚ to make his first grand slam quarterfinal outside of the French Open.
Anderson battled to cope with Thiem’s ability to move him side-to-side with his pounding forehand in particular‚ while the Austrian also played a number of deft drop shots.
The Austrian No 9 seed also stood 10m behind the baseline on Anderson’s first serve throughout the match‚ negating his huge pace.
It was Thiem’s first win over Anderson at his seventh attempt. All previous six meetings were also on hard courts.
Thiem produced a stunning service exhibition‚ winning 91% of points on his first serve and never giving up a break point. Anderson did not have a look-in against a man playing one of the best matches of his career.
The 24-year-old (Thiem turned 25 on Monday) hit 42 winners and only 13 unforced errors while Anderson made more than double that number of unforced errors.
The prize for winning is a clash against No 1 seed Rafa Nadal in the quarterfinal after the Spaniard silenced Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in four sets.
"It was one of my best matches ever‚" Thiem said. "I could change my return position‚ and this helped me a lot. And also the court‚ I think‚ made a big difference.
"It’s a huge court. I could go very far back like I do on clay usually. I also played really safe from the baseline‚ which is also a big part of the performance today. But against him‚ still‚ the most important is to put as many balls back into play as possible."
Anderson admitted the better man won‚ after having his serve broken three times.
"He had some unbelievable passing shots‚ made me hit another ball‚" Anderson‚ the 2017 US Open finalist‚ said. "That made things pretty tough.
"It’s disappointing. I wanted to be here right till the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn’t meant to be."
Thiem lost the 2018 French Open final to Nadal‚ and has a shot at redemption when they meet on Tuesday.