Tennis star's remarkable act after rival's last-minute withdrawal

Dominic Thiem has taken part in an impromptu practice session on the Indian Wells stadium court after Gael Monfils’ last-minute withdrawal.

The pair were set to clash in the quarter-finals at the Masters tournament when Monfils decided his body was not up to the task.

In the first unusual decision of the night, the Frenchman walked out on to the court to speak to the fans.

“I tried to warm up, and my left Achilles was very painful since a couple of days,” he said.

“This morning it was really tough for me (to) run 100 per cent. Tonight I tried to hit a little bit and I cannot compete like 100 per cent tonight so I’m so sorry guys to put myself in this situation.

“I would like to thank you for everything you give me this week and again, I’m sorry for tonight.”

The match was to be the last of the night, with many fans leaving the stadium to head home early.

But for those who stayed Thiem offered up a consolation.

Bound for his hotel following Monfils’ withdrawal, the Austrian seventh seed turned his car around and returned for a practice session.

“No of course, it’s not fun (to see a rival injured). I think it would’ve been a very tough match,” he said when he arrived on court.

After Gael Monfils’ last-minute withdrawal, Dominic Thiem appeared on court for a practice session. Pic: Getty

“We both played very well here the first three rounds so I was looking forward to that and I’m really sorry for him. I hope that he feels better soon.”

Thiem planned on hitting for about 45 minutes.

“It’s my first time this year on centre court,” he said.

“It’s great to get a hit on, especially at night, and with a great crowd.”

He will face the 13th seed Milos Raonic in the semi-finals on the weekend.

Earlier, Raonic rode the strength of his serve to a 6-3 6-4 win over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in his match.

He will be making his fourth appearance in the Indian Wells semi-finals.

Raonic struck 13 aces with no double faults while winning his match in just 72 minutes.

“In a few key moments, my serve really helped me out,” Raonic said.

“I just tried to play consistent, be aggressive when I had the first chance.”

The loss ends Kecmanovic’s miraculous run through the tournament.

The 19-year-old, who began the week with one tour-level win to his name, was the first lucky loser to reach the quarter-finals since 1990.

He failed to convert each of his three break-point attempts in his match against Raonic, who felt the court conditions have helped him in his run to the semis.

“This year it’s a little bit slower than the previous years,” the Canadian said.

“But it allows me to take a few more swipes at a few more shots, and I can do different things with my serve that I need to get ahead in the point.”

Raonic, who has met Thiem twice and won both matches, is seeking his first tour title since January 2016.

with agencies