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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!