In yesterday’s post, we pushed the importance of these three matches:
Thiem v Tsitsipas (Thiem)
Shapovalov v Fognini (Shapovalov)
Auger-Aliassime v Medvedev (Felix)
You can see I even picked a winner. Let’s entertain some explanation.
The first is perhaps a harbinger of things to come for Thiem. My criticism of his tennis (his coach) stands resolute at this point. Outside a clay court, he doesn’t strike fear in anyone. If you are going to stand at or really behind the BL and hit shots as hard as you can with a once-in-a-blue-moon approach to net with a shaky volley cut drop-shot, you’re very limited.
I remember before Thiem’s match against Jarry in Hamburg last week, the Austrian praised the Chilean, in my athletic sense coping an admission that Thiem knew what was coming.
Is it that these younger pros are hungrier than the almost 25 year-old Thiem (9/3)? Perhaps.
But the argument here is simply that he becomes far too vulnerable hitting from his heels 5-10 feet behind the BL, with a one-hander. Tennis Channel wouldn’t give me much coverage of yesterday’s match; I did catch the scoreline, saw an easy set for Tsitsipas, but as Thiem held serve in the second set, I thought my prediction would still stand. Thiem just needs to find his feet, get some confidence and out-compete this young Greek.
The coverage switched to the match as they went to the second set TB. To make a long story short, Thiem didn’t have a chance. The Greek’s ground strokes were more consistently deep and difficult and Thiem’s court position left him in further and further impossibility.
The image I’m left with is Thiem in a deep ad court, 8 feet behind the BL trying to hit a slice BH, Stefanos coming to net and the ball falling scared into the net.
JW, my Polish Thiem commentator, made some nice comments on this blog regarding Dominic, my comments about him and his coach, among other things. I stand by my analysis of Thiem. We beliem in the Austrian, but he’s become even more one-dimensional, it seems, meaning a guy for one-surface.
JW, thoughts if you’re reading this?
Remember: other players have coaches too. Imagine building a plan to beat Thiem. Push him and pressure his BH, his entire BL arsenal, which has to be perfect for him to have much of a chance.
We can criticize these BL goblins all day and night. But there are other factors, as well. For instance, Tsitsipas, and Rublev, even Shapovalov, for instance, hit flatter balls. Thiem’s reliance on massive top-spin, again standing deep in the court is a really exposed game.
He looked utterly smashed, coming to net to congratulate Tsitsipas. It wasn’t even close.
So, I missed this one, but at the same time, my diagnosis of Thiem has only been confirmed. Changes need to be made. The quicker courts and this hungry youth spell difficulty for the Austrian’s limited tennis.
Shapo’s win over Fognini was a tremendous call. I got such good odds on that one, Fognini the favorite, playing some of the best tennis on tour, that I made-out pretty well on that one (ha ha).
I didn’t get to see much of this, but seeing him down a couple of breaks in the second, getting the match back on serve and then exchanging heated words with Foghat during a change-over, gathering himself and serving-out the match was simply brilliant.
This kid is a gamer, which we discussed yesterday and have for a while now.
With Del Potro’s injury exit, we need a Shapo v Nadal SF.
Shapo straight-setting the Italian is money in the bank on this kid. Buy stock now.
In the last match there, Auger-Aliassime v Medvedev, I wasn’t terribly confident, mainly because Felix is so young. He turned 18 YESTERDAY. And the Russian is no joke. I liked the one set advantage, but he, probably rightly so, got a little lesson in ATP Masters quality. Certainly a solid comeback from the Russian.
Great stuff all the way around.
Nothing too noteworthy else where in yesterday’s matches, oh except for the Tiafoe win over Raonic. The similarities between Tiafoe and Kyrgios, an affinity I have championed for a while, are, again, striking. When Frances is dialed-in, he can play some very delightful and dangerous tennis. The athleticism, like Kyrgios, makes the proposition even scarier. Grabbing the first set, losing the second, the rain delay and then the bread-stick in front of the Canadian crowd? Wowzer.
My discussion yesterday of the Canadian and Russian revolutions/youth movements left-out any reference to the Americans. Tiafoe leads that charge, or perhaps stands alone (why I might not have brought-up that contingent at that point).
Tiafoe v Dimitrov today. This is a tough one because they can both go away. I suspect this to be a tight one. If Tiafoe has his game and focus, he will be a handful for the vulnerable Bulgarian.
I heard a soft explanation for Dimitrov’s tennis troubles that I guess both he and his coach have subscribed to, and I’m there’s some truth to this: Grigor’s difficulties, as the story goes, stems from his variety, that he has too many tools in the proverbial bag of tricks. He and Vallverdú, his coach, are working to simplify his approach since he gets, allegedly, confused or hamstrung a bit trying to decide which tool to use.
Variety is the king of the sport, my friend. So, I respectfully disagree here.
Dimitrov could start to find some form like he did last year (in winning Cincy). This should be a good display of athletic tennis. Frances should be riding pretty high from his dismissal of the big Canadian — I have to ride that confidence, but this is a tough one.
Of course I want to see Stan Wawrinka find his animal spirit and push the No. 1 seed in today’s match. I didn’t bother watching Nadal’s routine win v “talented” Paire (that guy, sure he has a nice BH, but what a disaster — did you check his tantrum in D.C.?).
Here’s to the rise of the Stanimal though we’re not exactly holding our breath.
Djokovic v Tsitsipas should be good, but as you can probably imagine, I’m anticipating a bit of a dip from the Greek; either way, he most likely gets a reality check from the ascendant Serb. This even competitive should be a good watch, but Novak surging could undermine any drama whatsoever.
Cilic v Schwartzman, Haase v Shapo, Isner v Khachanov. . .
Let’s hope for some tasty hard court quarter final fare after today’s R16 provisions.
Enjoy the tennis, folks.