Dominic Thiem has been far from his best in recent months, but the 24-year-old is still a top ten player and will head into this year’s US Open as the ninth seed. The Austrian, who has lost in the fourth round in three of his four career US Open appearances, will face world #81 Mirza Basic in the first round. Basic, from Bosnia, has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam just three times, though this will be his third in succession. Who will come out on top?
Considering the relatively different paths their careers have taken, it is no great surprise that these two have never matched up against one another. Basic has spent much of his career well outside the top 100, battling away on the ITF Futures Tour. But he did breakthrough to claim his maiden ATP title earlier this year at the Sofia Open, defeating Marius Copil in the final, and broke into the top 100 for the first time.
Thiem’s talent, in contrast, has always been plain to see. He first reached the top 100 as a 20-year-old in 2014, and has been embedded in the top 30 for over three years. Indeed, he hasn’t been ranked outside of the top ten since June of 2016. Missing from his resume, however, is a Grand Slam title, something which he came as close as he ever has to achieving earlier this year when he made the final at the French Open.
Last time out
Thiem has had a terrible couple of months by the high standards he has set since the conclusion of Roland Garros, where, as mentioned above, he lost to Nadal in what was his first Grand Slam final. Since then, he has been knocked out in the first round of three of the five tournaments in which he has competed, and not made it past the third round in either of the other two. He did not even compete in Cincinnati, withdrawing before the tournament began.
Basic has been receiving direct entry into a higher tier of event than he once did since his breakthrough win in Bulgaria earlier this year. But as a result, he has been struggling to find positive results. He hasn’t been able to advance past the first round of a tournament since June when he defeated world #86 Paolo Lorenzi in the first round in Antalya. He did come through the qualifiers in Toronto, but lost to Djokovic in the first round.
How do they match up?
Thiem commands considerable power on both wings. His forehand is particularly heavy, while his backhand, a single-hander, is one of the best on the Tour. On top of that he has a powerful serve, though it is not particularly reliable. Basic's best shot is his backhand, but he does not boast a huge amount of power. To have a chance in this match he must deny Thiem time on the ball if he can, but that is not a simple proposition.
Thiem has been some way short of his best for a couple of months now, but he shouldn’t have any problems against Basic. The Bosnian has done well to break into the top 100, but he cannot match Thiem's power off the ground, nor indeed defend against it. It is one thing to number amongst the world's best 100, quite another to start beating those ranked amongst the sport's elite ten. Expect a straight sets Thiem victory.