The Open Previews: Dominic Thiem

For the Open previews, Tennisense will be skipping ATP/WTA players who have pulled out of the Open, even if they are currently ranked in the Top 10.

Current Rank: #8

Dominic Thiem has a powerful all court game.  It isn’t as well rounded as it can be, but it is an all court game nonetheless.  He should potentially be a threat on all surfaces but so far, Thiem seems to be content waiting for the clay court season to come around before making his seasonal mark – a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros.  The clay court season is the longest and has the most tournaments jam-packed into it so a solid showing during that stretch is usually enough to see a player hold a seeded ranking.

However, the fact remains that Dominic Thiem comes into the U.S open with just one title – the Rio Open – and is slowly being left behind by the likes of Dimitrov and Zverev.  If he’s not careful, Shapovalov and Tiafoe will begin nibbling at his heels. He absolutely has to do well at the U.S Open if he wants to prove to himself and the world that he is more than just a clay-court act.  To do that, Thiem must stop thinking like a clay courter. His game – like Nadal’s – is built on heavy topspin.  He likes to stay back and unload heavily spun shot after shot until his opponent is overwhelmed by them.  That works most of the time against the lower ranked players.  However, against seasoned or gifted hard/grass court players, the tactic capitulates on itself.  Staying so far back affords Thiem’s opponents a lot of counter strategies – angles, drop shots, low slices – to work with.  His court positioning is also suspect as players frequently exploit the open court space he leaves when taking those full cut swinging backhands or running around to unload on a forehand.

Fact is, Thiem’s game needs to mature a bit more.  His instinctive net game is good but he doesn’t have that deliberate forecourt presence that would take his game to a completely new dimension.  I believe he should vary his shot selection a bit more too.  For someone so gifted, simply unloading on topspin shots makes him look one dimensional.  Even the younger Nadal, realized early on the need to adjust his game to other surfaces.  Flattening out his shots from time to time and implementing the slice, won’t be a bad idea.

We’ll see how far Thiem goes in his career but based on his form coming into the US Open, I’d say a quarter-final showing in NewYork would be a decent start.

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Categories: ATP, Sports, Tennis, Tournament, US Open

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