Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem has revealed how he was able to fight back from the brink of throwing up in his titanic semi-final clash with Alexander Zverev to advance.
Thiem and Zverev played some of the best tennis of the tournament at stages in what was the youngest men’s semi-final at Melbourne Park in a decade, but the Austrian was ultimately able to prevail over his good friend.
However, the win did not come without a scare for Thiem, who just 48 hours prior had survived a gruelling four-setter against world No.1 Rafael Nadal.
With the two men having split the opening two sets, the all important third set was placed on a knife’s edge when Thiem pointed to his stomach and motioned to his box that he felt like throwing up.
Remarkably, the Austrian No.5 seed was able to regroup, before taking the ensuing tiebreaker 7-3 to take a major step towards the final, and he revealed that it was all down to nerves.
“I was feeling nervous,” he told Nine after the win.
“I think I was putting so much energy and so much effort in so my stomach was not ready for that and it was rebelling a little bit.
“It was all good but it sometimes happens when it’s really close and it’s in a tough match.”
After Thiem tied up the contest with a 6-4 second set win, the match was delayed for 10 minutes after Zverev noticed a light had gone out inside Rod Laver Arena.
During the stoppage in play, Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit Sweet Caroline was played inside the stadium, and Thiem explained how the song allowed him to settle his nerves.
“Yeah I like that song,” he said.
“I felt like I’m in Austria on skiing holidays because that’s where they play this song all the time.
Thiem’s post-match interview
“That loosened me up a little bit.”
The 26-year-old, who will be in his third career Grand Slam final appearance, admitted that he struggled to start out the match after his quarter-final slugfest with Nadal.
“It’s not easy. I was playing 48 hours earlier against Rafa who is the most intense guy on tour,” he said.
“Almost every rally was so intense and long so I was in bed at around five two days ago so of course it was not easy to recover.
“Once all the adrenaline came in when I walked into the full stadium I was fine. I still had some trouble in the first set.
“I think we were both nervous and we started with two breaks. It was the first semi-final here for both of us so that was not easy and it was a tough start for me.”
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