Thiem Wins Maiden ATP World Tour Title in Nice, Reaches Career-High Ranking

Hi, folks. As you know I’ve been interested in this player Dominic Thiem for some time now and I was delighted to see him win his first ATP title today, defeating Mayer 6-7(8), 7-5, 7-6(2) in the final. I watched the match and although I got frustrated with some of the breakpoints Thiem missed, I can’t fault him in any way for his performance this week. Today the first set was the only set he dropped all week, and the straight set win over Isner yesterday was impressive.

  • The Match

In the opening set he had Mayer on 0-40 on his serve and two or more breakpoints in the same game, but failed to break. In the tie-break, he hit a blistering backhand return winner on set point with Mayer serving at 6-5, but Mayer came up with a blistering backhand winner himself to win the first set. That was disappointing and I thought Mayer would probably win because Thiem wasn’t taking his chances. But Thiem hung tough in the second set until the pressure of serving second got to Mayer and Thiem broke in the twelfth game to win the set.

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In the deciding set, Thiem wasted more break point opportunities when he had Mayer at 15-40 on his serve and failed to capitalize. It would come down to another tie-break to decide the winner of this close encounter. I wasn’t sure that Thiem was clutch enough to take it, but he proved me totally wrong by playing a terrific breaker which he won 7-2, leaving Mayer with no chance. The point that set up match point for Thiem was pretty special and after he won match point he fell on his back and raised his arms skyward.

  • Some Observations

The win against Isner was good, but Mayer can be a very tricky opponent himself, as Roger himself found out last year in Shanghai when he had to save match points against him. He hits with a lot of pace on his groundstrokes and his serve is big too. What I liked about this match was Thiem’s mental fortitude. He showed good fight to hang in there after losing the first set and then when it mattered most he came up with the goods. It was only his second final, but I’m glad he took the next step by winning it.

There were several times where I felt he missed poor shots at important times, but then he came up with great shots at important times too. To improve I’d like him to become more consistent but I couldn’t have asked for more today. He is still young and he will become more consistent with time. Mayer is a tough customer because you can’t hit him off the court. You kind of have to weather the storm which is exactly what Thiem did, and I thought that showed good maturity already.

This title will do Thiem’s confidence the world of good and he rises to a career high ranking of 31. After the slump at the start of the year and the slow start to the clay court season, he has done very well. He only has a second round to defend at the French Open as well. I hope he can make the third round at least and he has a tough draw. I think he can win his first round, but then he plays Cuevas. I hope he can win that too in which case he would probably play Monfils.

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Ugliest trophy ever but it’s the title that matters

And the winner of that is likely to play Roger. I don’t really care if Thiem loses to Monfils. I just want him to improve on last year and climb into the top 30 possibly. It’s about steady progress and that is what the kid is doing. He is young and it doesn’t really matter how long it takes, as long as the progress is steady. With this title, he is also the first of the promising new youngsters to win a title. Coric for one got routined 6-4, 6-3 by Mayer, so for now Thiem is ahead.

I think this kid has potential. He still stands far back on the return of serve and plays from pretty far behind he base line, but he makes up for that to some extent with power. I think he can tighten things up mentally too, but I think he is heading in the right direction. He has all the shots anyway. I am quite impressed with his volleys for a guy who seems like a baseline player with his big swings. He has a very decent serve too. I can’t find any serious flaws anyway.

He has power and he has touch. And I think he is mentally solid which is always the most important. So I can see him go far but it is quite early days too and it’s hard to say yet just how good he can be. But either way I find his game exciting, especially that backhand, and he looks like a nice kid too.

  • Federer to Play Tomorrow

As you know by now probably Roger will be in action tomorrow second match on Chatrier against qualifier Falla. Roger has never lost to Fella in seven meetings, but their last three meetings have all been close, the most memorable one of which was that first round at Wimbledon in 2010 where I think Roger saved match points. Hopefully, they don’t have a similar match tomorrow because that would hardly help Roger’s chances to make the final.

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To go deep here, it’s of utmost importance that Roger doesn’t play a bunch of five setters early on. Even if he plays Monfils and it becomes a marathon like at the US Open last year it could really cost him against the likes of Stan, Berdych, or Nishikori. Despite a very forgiving draw, making the final is going to be tough going. I said he should make the final with this draw but having thought about it I’d settle for semi-finals. That would already be a big improvement from the last two years!

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

French Open 2015 Draw – Djokovic and Nadal in Same Quarter

[1]Djokovic-Nieminen
Muller-Lorenzi
Kokkinakis-Q
[27]Tomic-Q

[20]Gasquet-Q
Berlocq-Q
Kavcic-Lu
Smyczek-[15]Anderson

[10]Dimitrov-Sock
Carreno Busta-Estrella Burgos
Coric-Querrey
[18]Robredo-Q

[30]Mannarino-Melzer
Kuznetsov-Jaziri
Almagro-Dolgopolov
Halys-[6]Nadal

[3]Murray-Q
Pospisil-Sousa
Q-Q
Istomin-[29]Kyrgios

[17]Goffin-Krajinovic
Giraldo-Young
Chardy-Q
Seppi-[16]Isner

[9]Cilic-Haase
Duckworth-Q
Janowicz-Hamou
Vesely-[23]L.Mayer

[31]Troicki-Struff
Bolelli-Darcis
Gimeno-Traver-J.Sousa
Lacko-[7]Ferrer

[5]Nishikori-Mathieu
Matosevic-Bellucci
Bemelmans-Becker
Q-[32]Verdasco

[19]Bautista Agut-F.Mayer
Q-Rosol
Monaco-Delbonis
Gabashvili-[11]Lopez

[14]Tsonga-Q
Kukushkin-Sela
Ramos-Vinolas-Andujar
Soeda-[22]Kohlschreiber

[28]Fognini-Ito
Q-Paire
Dodig-Stepanek
Q-[4]Berdych

[8]Wawrinka-Ilhan
Lajovic-Gonzalez
Berankis-Stakhovsky
Jonson-[26]GGL

[24]Gulbis-Q
Mahut-Q
Tiafoe-Klizan
Pouille-[12]Simon

[13]Monfils-Roger-Vasselin
Schwartzman-Haider-Maurer
Thiem-Bedene
Groth-[21]Cuevas

[25]Karlovic-Baghdatis
Dzumhur-Youzhny
Granollers-Q
[2]Federer-Q

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/draws/index.html

Well, there it is folks. The long awaited French Open draw in all its glory. And it is not lacking any surprises, the biggest of which is Djokovic and Nadal being in the same quarter. The second biggest surprise is that Murray is in the same half as these two, leaving Federer with the best French Open draw he’s had in years.

  • Djokovic and Nadal in the Same Quarter

I guess the people who are so sure that draws are rigged didn’t expect this one. Not saying draws don’t get rigged, but if it did then I’m not so sure a Djokodal quarter-final would have made a whole lot of sense. Anyway, this is what I hoped for. The later the Djoker faced Nadal the worse for him. There was always a chance that Nadal could have lost before he faced the Djoker, but if they had to meet I’d preferred it happened in the quarters. If Nadal makes the quarters he would already have four wins behind him and feeling more confident.

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But knowing that the Djoker is lurking in the quarters should he come through won’t exactly fill him with confidence I think, making him more prone to an upset. But given current form the Djoker surely has to be the favorite if they meet in the quarters. I don’t think four match wins will be enough to get Nadal back to his old level while the Djoker has been impeccable of late. No doubt all the losses against Nadal at the French as well as the pressure of completing the career slam won’t exactly fill the Djoker with confidence either.

But that’s what makes it so interesting. As for their draw until the quarters the Djoker has it pretty easy while Nadal has Dolgopolov in the second round and Dimitrov/Sock/Robredo/Coric in the fourth round, so an upset before the quarters is not unthinkable. But should these two meet in the quarters, which is the most likely outcome, we have the most interesting quarter-final matchup in Paris in years, if not ever. The closest the Djoker has ever come at beating Nadal was in the semis, and the earlier you get Nadal at the French the better…

  • Murray Also in the Top Half

This is another big surprise for people who think draw rigging is a reality. This means that three of the big four, who also happens to be the four big favorites for the title, are all stacked in the top half. If there was any draw rigging going on it was certainly in Roger’s favor this time. Murray’s draw is tough too because he gets Kyrgios in the third round, Isner in the fourth, and Ferrer in the quarters. And if he manages to get through he will play the favorite for the title.

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I hope that’s not the stress of marriage causing Murray’s baldness…

  • Federer’s ‘Cakewalk’ Draw

Roger’s draw is in a sense a cakewalk draw if you take into account the fact that he avoids the rest of the big four before the final, but it is not a cakewalk draw in the true sense of the word. Here it is:

  • R1: Qualifier
  • R2: Granollers
  • R3: Karlovic
  • R4: Monfils/Thiem/Cuevas
  • QF: Wawrinka/Garcia-Lopez/Simon
  • SF: Berdych/Nishikori
  • Djokovic/Nadal/Murray

In all honesty that is a cakewalk draw compared to the rest of the big four. But draws are never to be taken too seriously and we all saw what happened at the US Open last year. Roger also had a ‘cakewalk’ draw and all of a sudden Cilic was in the zone schooling everyone. The same thing could happen with Stan, Berdych, or Nishikori. These are all talented shot makers who hit anyone off the court on a given day. Well, maybe with the exception of Nishikori whose serve is a massive liability.

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…and the stress of Roger causing Edberg’s baldness.

Still, you would hope that Roger could take advantage of this opportunity if you are a Fedfan. Especially after what happened at the US Open and Australian Open. I’m sure many Fedans feel Roger owes them when it comes to the slams. I’m sure he’d want to prove to himself too that he’s still got it where it matters most. There is doubt about his stamina as well as mental fortitude after what happened in Melbourne. And nothing less that a final in Paris would put those doubts to rest for the time being.

Why? Because his current clay court form says he is good enough to do it. He lost to Monfils in Monte Carlo, but that was before he found his clay game in the Istanbul final. Or maybe I expect too much? All I know is if he wants to win another slam title he can’t lose in the third round to the likes of Seppi. That is not gonna get it done. With his current clay court form, he simply has to find a way to make the final. If he does that there is always a chance he can win the title too.

Sure the ideal scenario was semi-finals, but that was before the draw came out. Now that he dodges the rest of the big four before the semis he has to try and capitalize. And making the final would also be a boost before Wimbledon.

  • Thiem Makes the Final in Nice

Finally, Thiem made his second tour final today with an impressive 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Isner. He almost choked it away because he got broken straight back after breaking Isner in the first set, and in the tie-break he made a double fault at 6-4 but, fortunately, broke Isner on the next point to win the first set. The other youngster Coric was not so lucky as he lost to Mayer. I hope Thiem can win his first ATP title tomorrow. By making the final, he has already equaled his previous best ranking of 36.

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If he wins tomorrow he climbs to a personal best of 31, but it’s great to see that he has already overcome his recent struggles and is climbing back up the rankings. He had a poor start to the clay court season, but it looks like that training camp with Roger paid off after all, as it did for Roger. As far as the French Open goes he has a tough draw, but I won’t be surprised if he causes an upset or two. Who knows, we may even have him playing against Roger in the fourth round!

The is in your court.

Thiem Reaches Nice Semi-Finals, Wawrinka Loses in Geneva

Hey, folks. Tomorrow is the big day when the French Open draw is made at 11:30 am local time, but before the draw tomorrow I want to get to what’s going on this week in Nice and Geneva, the last two tournaments in the run-up to the French Open.

  • Thiem Going Strong in Nice

After a slow start to the year and clay court season, Thiem has picked up his results in Miami, Munich, Rome, and now Nice. There is still a lot of work left to do in his game but by making the semis in Nice he made his first tour semi-final outside of his country Austria. His match with Kyrgios in the second round was an interesting match up, but unfortunately Kyrgios withdrew at 3-4 in the first set. Today he defeated his friend Gulbis for the third time and now leads the head-to-head 3-0.

Gulbis is finding it hard to win any matches at all this year and is 3-12 for the year. It’s hard to believe he beat Roger at the French Open last year. But that is the kind of loss you’d think Roger would be able to avoid this year. Anyway, to get back to Thiem he defeated Gulbis 6-2, 6-4 and I didn’t think he played particularly well. Gulbis is just that bad. Tomorrow Thiem plays against Isner which should be interesting. If he wants to win he’d have to tighten up his game a lot.

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He is still playing too loosely on important points. He obviously has great potential because he has everything and he hits the ball hard, but mentally he is not quite there yet. Tomorrow against Isner will be another big test for him. But either way it’s nice to see that he won some more matches on clay after that strong run in Miami. Clay should suit his game and it will be interesting to see if he causes any upsets in Paris. Coric made semis in Nice too so the youngsters keep making their move.

  • Wawrinka Loses to Delbonis in Geneva

So Stan played in Switzerland in Roger’s absence but he ended up losing in the quarter-finals today to Delbonis, 7-6(5), 4-6, 4-6. Was it another showing from Stank? The tournament in Geneva is not at a good time or I’m sure Roger would have played it instead of Istanbul. I’m not sure if Stan would actually tank in Geneva, but maybe his mind wasn’t quite in it with the French Open coming up. It’s hard to tell with Stan though. Maybe just another poor loss?

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  • French Open Draw

The French Open draw this year promises to be an interesting one. With Nadal not ranked inside the top four for the first time going into Roland Garros since 2005, all eyes are on where he will fall in the draw. Does it matter in which of the top four’s quarter he falls, or will he already be unstoppable if he reaches the quarter-final stage? Raonic has also withdrawn from the tournament which means Nadal will be seeded sixth and Stan climbs up to the eighth seed.

This means Nadal can’t meet Stan before the quarter-finals which is fortunate for him, since Stan is the kind of player who can hit him off the court like we saw in Australia and Rome last week. But I’m sure there are players who can potentially upset Nadal before the quarters with the form he is in. No one thought Soderling would do it in 2009, but he did. Will Nadal land in Federer’s quarter and we will see their first quarter-final meeting in a slam? That would give Federer the chance to get a telling win in the head-to-head.

Any thoughts on the draw?

The is in your court.