During Dominic Thiem’s 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 semi-final victory over Alexander Zverev, the Austrian had a superb act of sportsmanship.
With the German 22-year-old down a break and trying to hold serve at 3-1 in the third set, in the middle of a deuce game and the advantage to Zverev, a linesperson called “out” on one of his shots.
As the ball landed right at Thiem’s feet on the baseline, the Austrian had a closer look at where it had bounced and immediately told Zverev to challenge the ‘out’ decision.
The Nine commentary team were stunned at Thiem’s actions.
“That’s going to be challenged. Thiem’s telling him to challenge. That was good, he was saying,” tennis legend John McEnroe said in commentary.
“Here comes the challenge and it is … it is in.”
The Hawk-Eye replay showed the ball catching the baseline, but because Thiem returned the shot after the out call, with the point interrupted, it was uncertain whether the point would need to be replayed after the challenge overruled the linesperson.
However because Thiem’s shot salied long, the chair umpire determined that the linesperson’s out call did not affect his shot and awarded the point to Zverev.
“Thiem’s going to give him the game. That’s probably the right call,” McEnroe said.
Dominic Thiem v Alexander Zverev: AO Highlights
Zverev saluted Thiem with a thumbs up after closing out the game and getting to 3-2 courtesy of the challenge.
The commentators praised Thiem, surprised that he not only urged Zverev to challenge but also that he did not aggressively argue with the umpire over the decision not to replay the point.
“Thiem’s temperament was perfect there,” Todd Woodbridge commented.
“He didn’t want to get involved and worry about it. Most players would have had a little bit of a discussion that the call came and it affected [his] shot as a hindrance.”
“Thiem handled that incredibly well,” added Lleyton Hewitt.
“He was asked [umpire] John Blom when he sat down on the chair if his shot that he played after that was actually out. He accepted that the call was in on his baseline and he just went on with it.”
Thiem’s superb sportsmanship
The act of sportsmanship was particularly gutsy given the match was at that stage on a knife’s edge.
A second break of serve for Thiem would have just about guaranteed him the third set, yet he was willing to forgo that opportunity when tension was high.
Indeed, it very nearly proved costly, with Zverev breaking back soon after to level at 4-4 with Thiem eventually saving two set points and rallying to win the tiebreak.
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