Ofner Ousts Thiem To Reach Astana Open Semi-Finals

Sebastian Ofner (photo: Astana Open/KTF)

ASTANA, October 1, 2023

The Austrian tennis festival at the Astana Open continued on Sunday with three players from the Alpine state in action. For the first time in the history of the Open Era a trio of players from Austria appeared in the stage of the last eight at an ATP Tour event and one of them has made his way into the semi-finals of the ATP 250 hard-court tournament.

In front of about 1,800 spectators inside the Beeline Arena in Kazakhstan’s capital city, Sebastian Ofner won the Austrian derby against Dominic Thiem 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. The 27-year-old capitalized on three of his 15 break-point chances to succeed in two hours and 26 minutes.

“It feels incredible to reach a semi-final after six years,” said Ofner, who advanced to the stage of the last four on home soil in Kitzbühel 2017. “My performance was very good. I played good rallies, was patient and waited for the right moment to get for the winner. I also served very well.”

The World No. 58 showed a couple of impressive passing shots, which helped him to earn his first win over Thiem in the pair’s fourth meeting.

“I am very pleased with my season so far. I struggled a bit in terms of motivation after winning the Challenger event in Salzburg but I overcame it pretty quickly,” said the Austrian No. 1 player, who is guaranteed a spot in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings next week.

Mannarino battles past Rodionov 

Ofner will next take on French veteran Adrian Mannarino, who battled past Austrian qualifier Jurij Rodionov 6-1, 7-6(6) in an all-lefty affair. After a solid first set, the 35-year-old needed to save 11 set points in the second to secure victory in one hour and 44 minutes.

“I was pretty sure to lose the second set but the fact that he lost many set points, it got tight again. Towards the end of the match, we both made many mistakes. It could have gone both ways and I was lucky to win the set,” said Mannarino, who was 5-1 down in the tie-break, in which he even received a point penalty.

“I knew that he is a dangerous player but I was trying to concentrate on my own game. That worked out well for one set and a half, then I started to think too much maybe. It didn’t end up the way I was hoping but that’s okay,” the No. 6 seed explained during his post-match press conference.

“I have a pretty good record playing against another lefty. It doesn’t affect me so much and I don’t really change anything in my game style.”

Medjedovic to face Korda

In the top half of the draw, Serbian wild card entry Hamad Medjedovic, who secured the biggest win of his career by knocking out World No. 30 and fourth-seeded Czech Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-4. The 20-year-old from Novi Pazar struck seven aces, saved all four break points he faced and capitalized on six of his own 12 break-point chances to advance in one hour and 15 minutes.

Honestly, it feels amazing,” said Medjedovic in his on-court interview. “It’s an amazing feeling to be in the semi-finals of Astana. It’s my second ATP 250 semi-final, but I think this one feels pretty special because I beat very good players and especially on indoor hard courts. I’m very happy with the win and let’s try to win some more matches.”

Medjedovic will next play fifth favourite Sebastian Korda. The 23-year-old US-American upset the tournament’s top seed Tallon Griekspoor from the Netherlands 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Astana Open debutant Korda fired 12 aces and won three points more than his opponent to prevail after one hour and 41 minutes.