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.

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.