After going undefeated in the round-robin stage, Dominic Thiem capped a perfect week at the Adria Tour exhibition event in Belgrade on Sunday by beating Filip Krajinovic for the title, 4-3 (2), 2-4, 4-2.
It wasn’t Thiem’s first three-setter of the event: he edged No. 23-ranked Dusan Lajovic in his second round-robin match, 1-4, 4-1, 4-3 (6), fighting off triple match point down 6-3 in the third set tiebreak.
But against the No. 32-ranked Krajinovic, Thiem was never in trouble in the third set, breaking at 15 for a 2-1 lead and riding that break to victory. He served the match out at love in a service game that featured what was maybe the shot of the tournament at 30-0: a tweener passing shot down the line.
The world No. 3 clinched the victory on the next point after a Krajinovic volley landed just long.
“I played some matches in Austria, but this event was different,” Thiem said. “We had high quality players and played in front of a huge crowd. It was my first time in Serbia and it was amazing.
“It was a perfect weekend.”
After such a long break from competition, one would think four matches in two days might be a tough ask - but Thiem said it wasn’t too much of a problem as he’s been back training for a while now.
“I’m happy with the level I played this week. I’ve been fully in practice for quite a while - I played seven matches in Austria,” he said. “But I have to say, it’s something very different with the big crowd. You’re a little bit tight and you want to play better, because you’re not just playing for yourself, you also want to give the fans a good show. So I’m super happy that I won all of my matches.”
And it wasn’t all about winning, either.
“It’s always nice to win a trophy, of course, but that was not the main cause for me to come here,” he added. “It’s great that it ended up like that, but first of all I had a really great time here. I had an amazing weekend. It was for a good cause, too, so it couldn’t be better. So, a big thank you to Novak and his team, his family, for organizing this great event, and making the time special for us here.
“We’ve all had pretty tough times the last weeks, the last months, and we didn’t see each other. We all have a great relationship with each other, and we’ve had some great quality time together here.”
Thiem announced he would be donating his prize money from the victory to two charities: the St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute in Vienna, as well as a brittle bone disease charity.
Despite losing to Thiem, it was a phenomenal week for Krajinovic, too. The Serb not only pulled off the upset of the tournament on Saturday night, edging Novak Djokovic, 2-4, 4-2, 4-1, but he also edged the World No. 1 and No. 7 Alexander Zverev to finish on top of their round-robin group - all three of them finished 2-1 in matches and 5-3 in sets, but Krajinovic had the best games differential.
Emese Kardhordo contributed to this report.