Thursday, May 30, 2024

Agwi battles Thiem but Austria prevail in Davis Cup tie

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Tennis Ireland’s gamble in bringing this Davis Cup tie to a newly-laid court at the Sports Hall and hire 2,400 seats paid off with a cracking atmosphere at UL.

However, nothing that the bumper crowd did could change the predicted score at the end of day one with Austria winning both singles matches to lead 2-0.

Dominic Thiem, a veteran of four Grand Slam finals, and one win at the 2020 US Open, may not have known too much about Michael Agwi before this weekend, but he was certainly made to work very hard by the tall, athletic 20-year old Dubliner.

Twice in the first set, at two-all and five-all, Agwi lost his serve and both times he broke back immediately to send it to a tie-break.

The small but boisterous Austrian crowd may have been shocked, but the Irish were on the edge of their seats, especially when Thiem double-faulted at three-all in the tie-breaker.

Agwi then won both of his service points to have three set points but one poor forehand into the net and Thiem’s nerve and resilience saw the Austrian take it 8-6.

Osgar Ó hOisín in action against Sebastian Ofner

Thiem raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second set and although Agwi had break point in the fifth game, he couldn’t break back as Thiem ran out a 7-6, 6-3 winner.

Agwi has spent a lot of his life outside Ireland and is currently based in Germany, but his promise was clear having made the final of a Futures tournament in Germany a couple of weeks ago. This performance should add to his belief that he can climb the rankings.

The highest quality tennis played today was by world number 40, Sebastien Ofner, the grey-haired 27-year-old who, relatively speaking, was not unduly troubled by Osgar Ó Hoisín.

Ofner’s serve was a big weapon and he won too many of his service games too easily from an Irish point of view.

There was more to his game as well, one backhand pass down the line off a decent first serve by Ó Hoisín drew gasps and his shot selection and execution were generally excellent. He broke Ó Hoisín once in each set to win 6-4, 6-4.

One doubles and the two reverse singles conclude the tie on Sunday with play starting at 11:00.

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