That’s right. I am that excited about this young player called Dominic Thiem. Having already broken into the top 40 in the world at the age of 20 his future is bright indeed. He is currently 21 years old and with his result in Miami he has already risen from #52 to #43 in the rankings. If he defeats Murray in the quarter finals he will rise to a personal best of #34 in the rankings(previous best #36). This guy is the real deal folks. He possesses everything needed to become great. I know it is early days but he has a fantastic attitude which is the most important thing. I have already referred to his attitude in my last post and yesterday after he defeated Anderson, Murray was asked about his next match with Thiem.
Murray responded that he practiced with Thiem before and that the guy is extremely respectful, a hard worker, and has a great attitude. I have also noticed that he is very humble, which goes hand-in-hand with what Murray said about him being extremely respectful. To me that is probably the most important thing. Kyrgios and Coric are going to be great players too but they are too cocky for my liking. I still like them but I just like Thiem much more. And then there is that epic one-handed backhand compared to Kyrgios and Coric who have two-handed backhands. So I don’t know about you, but my requirements for being a fan of a player is their attitude and an attractive playing style. Of course Roger have both of those which is why I am such a big fan.
But if Roger does have a flaw if would have to be that he sometimes appear arrogant and that he can fall apart mentally at the end of long matches. As far as those go I don’t see Thiem having those problems. I am not trying to say in any way that Thiem can be better than Roger or as a good as him. I am merely saying I like his attitude and his game, and I know how quickly Fedfans get ideas. But this is Ultimate Tennis now so need for me to worry about that anymore. Roger is still pretty much the ultimate tennis player for me. And Thiem’s game is actually quite different as he has long loopy strokes with a lot of topspin on them, not unlike Nadal. He is definitely not a moonballer like Nadal though.
He is an attacking base liner. He also has a fairly big serve. Probably around the same pace as Roger’s. He doesn’t have the hands Roger has(nobody does) but he has good touch and is a good shot maker. He is also the kind of guy who has it all but he stands quite far behind the base line and takes big cuts at the ball. Although he potentially has some limitations to his game he seems quite complete at the same time. For me it is a fresh change up from Roger’s game anyway because like I said he doesn’t stand as close to the base line as Roger, but he takes bigger cuts at the ball and has bigger swings. He is a bit more like Stan in that sense. He is more a powerful base liner with a good serve who prefers the base line.
I think he’d be a great clay court and hard court player. Probably grass or indoor courts won’t compliment his game very well. But like I said he has a complete game that can adjust to any surface. But yeah his very likable personality and very likable one-handed backhand makes me an instant fan. He can really hit that backhand with unreal power. Harder than Stan even. In a rally against Mannarino yesterday deep in the third set he blasted three backhands hard and deep to Mannarino’s forehand until Mannarino couldn’t handle the pace anymore and made an unforced error. Just unreal hitting. That shot is just a beauty to behold. And he hit some good touch shots too. I remember one particular drop shot in the third set as well which Mannarino could not reach.
I also like his forehand which he hits with a lot of spin and he has a great slice as you would expect from a one-hander. So yeah I am really excited about this player who I have been hyping for a while now. And like I said his disappointing start to the year was probably due to the fact that he had to do six weeks of military service during the off season. And he started using a new racquet too which Murray pointed out in the interview as well, saying that can take time to adjust to. But having the great attitude that he has, Thiem just kept plugging away until he finally came good in Miami. Making quarters at a Masters is big for him at this point and I am already happy with it. But beating Murray would be amazing.
And Thiem is no stranger to beating highly ranked players. He already has a top ten win over Stan, two wins over Lopez and Gulbis each who are ranked just outside the top ten, and wins over the likes of Simon, Rosol, etc. He has also played Murray before in Rottedam which is of course indoors and lost a pretty close three setter. And I think his chances are better on the slower conditions in Miami. We will see. Murray is playing well but like I said Thiem already got what he wanted from this week after a dry spell. Getting four wins including over Lopez and in form players Sock and Mannarino is great going. He does not have a win over a big four player so beating Murray would be yet another step in the right direction.
The match with Mannarino was terrific though. Thiem looked good at the beginning winning the opening set but Mannarino pulled it back to win the second set and went a break up in the third. Thiem showed great fight then and went to another gear to break back and get a break of his own to win 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5. Just terrific clutch tennis and fight from a youngster with a great attitude and abundant talent. It was a good contrast in playing styles too because Mannarino has short and simple strokes and takes the ball on the rise, while Thiem is pretty much the opposite of that. In the end it was probably Thiem’s mental strength and will to win that made he difference, because he hasn’t had to play this many matches for a while.
The real ‘baby Fed’
Well I have already written a long post and it was all about introducing the next big player Thiem to you, so I won’t spend much time on the rest. There was another unbelievable match between Djokovic and Dolgopolov, and I must say I am really grateful to be back in South Africa, watching on a stable stream, and not having to work just for the moment. I have really enjoyed Miami so far even though Roger has not been involved. Anyway I was saying Dolgopolov had Djokovic in serious trouble at 7-6(3) and 4-1. At 3-0 in the second set Dolgopolov even had a break point to get the double break. And that was basically match point because had he converted I’m sure it would have been beyond even Djokovic to come back.
But a set and a 4-1 lead was big enough, and Djokovic is the only guy who currently could have come back from that position against a guy who was playing the best tennis imaginable. Make no mistake about it; Dolgopolov is an immense talent. When he is on he can do whatever he wants with a tennis ball. The shocking truth is that Djokovic was not playing below his usual level until he was 4-1 down in the second set. It is just that Dolgopolov was playing that good. And most people can’t pic this fact up. But as if we needed to to be reminded, Djokovic showed his quality by escaping through the smallest of openings left for him by Dolgopolov. The guy is just unbelievably good. Of that there can be no doubt.
From 4-1 on Dolgopolov could manage only one more game in the match as Djokovic triumphed 6(3)-7, 7-5, 6-0. I think Djokovic is going to win this title now and win a staggering third Indian Wells/Miami double, something that has never been done before. Not even by Roger. To the people who think Djokovic is showing signs of weakness, I hope yesterday made clear to you what is going on. He is going to dominate for a long time still. Well there is a lot more to write about but this post has gotten long and I will cut it short here. Today Thiem will play Murray and Berdych will play Monaco to sort out who goes to the semis in the bottom half. And while I am very much looking forward to the first, I have no interest whatsoever in the latter.
Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer: